My friend Tasty Trix inspired this post today. Not only does she have slight obsession with gnocchi, but she also posted a Purple Potato Shepherd’s Pie today, on the heels of her Basque (Purple) Potato Tortilla from last week. I, on the other hand, have been sitting on these lavender feather-light pillows for over a week (actually 2).
I have no idea why I haven’t been able to write these babies up. They were easily the best gnocchi I have ever made. So light as to be called fluffy, they also had the body required to stand up to a simmer and then a pan-fry. And it`s all down, I’m certain, to the potatoes. They are a result of the hard work of my favourite farmers down the road, and some of the flouriest potatoes I have ever come across.
So, if there is anyone out there doing a procrastination study, I’m your test subject — I don’t even need the honorarium — just tell me why. Please?
Gnocchi can be a tricky thing. It’s more of a technique done by feel, rather than a strict recipe. I was taught how to make potato gnocchi by my Austrian chef-instructor, who grew up with his family on the Italian border. This is what he told me:
Bake potatoes in their jackets until tender. Scoop out the flesh, and put it through a food mill while still warm. Add 1/3 (by weight) of white flour, one egg yolk for every 2 potatoes, and a good seasoning of salt. Mix with one hand to bring it together into a ball, but do not over mix. Knead it lightly 3 or 4 times, then allow it to rest, covered with a clean lint-free towel until completely cooled.
In real life, this means that I baked 6 medium-sized potatoes at 375° for about an hour. After they were milled, I added approx 1 cup of flour and 3 egg yolks. Once mixed, the dough formed a non-sticky dough quite nicely. I used a little bit of flour to dust the counter when I shaped them, as below.
To shape the gnocchi, roll a tennis-sized ball of dough into a log about the diameter of your thumb. Cut into 1 inch pieces, then roll down a fork to finish. I’m not even going to try to describe the action in words. Watch this video — it shows you how to do it much better than I could ever even try.
Next, I brought some salted (like the sea) water to a boil, then simmered the gnocchi in 2 batches, until they floated to the surface of the water. I drained them, then cooled them on baking sheets so they didn’t form into a glue-ball. From there, you can proceed directly to dinner, or you can freeze them on the baking sheets until firm, then drop them into a sealed bag and back in the freezer for another day.
Those 6 potatoes made enough for 4 generous main-course servings. On the first night, I fried them in clarified butter, then tossed them in some freezer-pesto (still going strong 4 months later!) and served them with lots of freshly grated Parm. Insane with a Caesar Salad.
For our second Gnocchi-night, I took them out of the freezer to defrost about an hour before dinner. Once defrosted, I sauteed them in some sage-infused brown butter, with the fried sage leaves (and more Parmesan) as a garnish. Also insane, served with a raw beet vinaigrette.
So, if you’ve got access to some purple potatoes, purple gnocchi is a good option. Just don’t let time pass you by.