My absolute favorite Italian pasta is gnocchi. They are little potato-y pillows of goodness. They are a much easier process-oriented pasta than people think, and can be modified, added to, tweaked and enjoyed in many ways. This is a basic potato gnocchi, which can be mixed and matched with any type of sauce from red, to white to oil based. Whatever you feel like, and whatever you have in the kitchen at the time. This is the basic plain traditional potato gnocchi recipe, finished with a simple red sauce. Can't go wrong with the OG of the potato pasta dumpling world!
There are 2 key points for making potato based gnocchi. These are non-negotiables if you want to be successful, so get out your pen and write these down!
1) Your potatoes must be russets, and you MUST bake them. Don't boil. Don't microwave. Bake. Bake them. Did you get that? Bake them.
2) After you're done rolling and forming your first "snake" of gnocchi, boil a small pot of water up, and boil about 5 of your little dumpling pillows. My Nona enforced this, because if your recipe is off, and you've made all the gnocchi up, your table is set, you're ready to serve your guests.... and you boil your gnocchi, and they hit that boiling water... and they dissolve. Potato soup for your guests! Don't fall victim to this tale, test your batch, yo!
Now that I've given you the run down on "MUSTS" of potato gnocchi making.... onto the recipe!
Heat your oven to 375*. Place your washed russet potatoes onto a cookie sheet, and bake for about one hour, turning at 30 minutes. Bake until you can easily stick a knife through. Remove from oven, cut in half, and allow to fully cool on the pan. Once the potatoes are fully cooled, peel completely. Put potatoes through a ricer, and set aside in a bowl. If you don't have a ricer, you can use a pastry knife, or a potato masher. You want a very fine, consistent and lump-free texture for your potatoes!
Traditional Potato Gnocchi
1 pound russet potatoes, riced
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board and dough
Place cooled, riced potatoes into large mixing bowl. Add in egg yolks, parmesan cheese and salt. Mix well with hand. Add in flour 1/2 of a cup at a time. Mix well with hand. The dough will start to stiffen between 1-2 cups, add slowly at this point to avoid overworking the dough. You need the texture to be firm enough to roll on the board, but still tender. Take a small piece of dough and work it with flour and roll it on the board until you get the desired texture. Once you've achieved this texture, add the appropriate amount of flour to the rest of the batch and work through well with hands.
Take a small amount of dough, about the size of a plum, and roll it onto a floured counter into a snake, about 3/4 inch in diameter. Cut the snake into 1" pieces with floured knife. Flour your gnocchi board, or you can use a fork if you don't have a gnocchi board/paddle. Using medium pressure, roll the 1" section of dough down the board until it rolls inside out, leaving the dough patterned with the grooves of the board. It takes a few tries to get the technique down, if your first few don't look great, that's ok, you can toss them out, or call them rustic and enjoy them as is! The most important factor is that the gnocchi are the same size (not the same shape), so they cook evenly.
APPLY RULE #2 NOW! Boil a small pot of water, turn it down to a low rolling boil and place you gnocchi into the water gently. Boil for about 4 - 6 minutes, or until they float. Did they stick together? Do they taste firm but tender? Perfect! Let's keep rolling them up!
Repeat the above steps until all of your dough is formed into dumplings. Flour cookies sheets heavily, and freeze gnocchi spread out on pan. Don't allow them to touch. Once they are frozen, scrape off of sheet and store in tightly sealed freezer bag or container.
To serve, do not thaw, but cook frozen. Just boil slightly longer, until they float. It's always best to test a few before cooking the batch from frozen.Serve with your favorite sauce. For a plain potato dough, I recommend using a traditional marinara, ragu, rose or alfredo sauce.