Even though I'm not of Italian blood, I feel Italian. Or, more precisely, Sicilian. I was born under the volcano, Mount Etna, in a tiny town called Motta Santa Anastasia. In childhood, I was fascinated with my foreign birthplace and longed to go. I finally made my pilgrimage there when I was 21 years old and have visited a few times since. It is one of my favorite countries in the world. I love the culture, the passionate people, the delicious food, the focus on quality and process and the intensity with which Italians live their lives. I am a fiery kindred soul that has nothing to do with heritage and everything to do with spirit.
During Christmas, it is a tradition in many Italian families that all women hands are called to the deck to make homemade gnocchi.
I have never participated in the tradition, but have dreamed of it and this year, decided we'd try it out at Scrumptious Street. It turned out perfectly and was so much fun. I cannot thank my darling husband enough for shooting the beautiful photos of the process. He's an excellent photographer and he perfectly captured every step in the making of the gnocchi. Thanks, Mr. Scrumptious!
Having never made it before and not wanting to blow it, I thought it best to turn to Mario Batali for the gnocchi recipe and used his "Basic Gnocchi or Gnocchi di Patate" from my beloved Molto Italiano cookbook. This recipe worked perfectly but I used a ricer instead of a food mill, to great effect. As well, I used a bench knife to cut the dough and the gnocchi pieces. It was vital to the success of this recipe, make sure you have one. Mine has a ruler on the edge of it so that you can easily measure to 3/4 inch diameter. I did make the mistake of cutting the gnocchi too large, they were delicious but very filling. I recommend you roll and cut yours even smaller.
Here's Mr. Batali's recipe, which was perfect!
Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as an appetizer
3 lbs. russet potatoes
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. canola oil
1. Put the potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a low boil until the potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes, drain.
3. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 1 tablespoon salt. Set up an ice bath nearby. Make a well in the center of the potatoes and sprinkle them all over with the flour. Break the egg into the center of the well, add the salt, and using a fork, blend the egg and salt together. Using the fork, begin to incorporate the flour and potatoes as if you were making pasta. Once the dough begins to come together, begin kneading it gently until it forms a ball. Knead gently for another 4 minutes, or until the dough is dry to the touch.
4. Divide the dough into 6 balls. Roll one ball into a rope 3/4 inch in diameter and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece down the back of a fork to create the characteristic ridges.
Drop the gnocchi into boiling water and cook until they float to the surface, about 1-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the gnocchi to the ice bath. Repeat with the remaining dough, replenishing the ice as necessary.
5. When all the gnocchi have been cooked and cooled in the ice bath, drain them and transfer to a bowl. Toss with the oil. The gnocchi can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
Next posting will feature the dish I made cooking the gnocchi here. Stay tuned.