Larousse Gastronomique has an excellent gnocchi recipe that I tried out last night for a family dinner. The trick with gnocchi is always the consistency, which is determined in large part by the flour to potato ratio, and these came out as well as any I’ve had. Here’s the recipe:
“Cook 3 medium-sized potatoes in boiling salted water for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile grate 6-7 medium sized peeled potatoes and squeeze them in a cloth to extract as much water as possible. Peel and mash the cooked potatoes, then mix with the grated raw potatoes. Add 1 cup all-purpose flour, a little grated nutmeg, salt and pepper, then 2 whole eggs one after the other. Mix thoroughly. Boil some salted water and use two spoons to shape the paste into small, round portions. Drop them into the water and leave to simmer for 6-8 minutes. Drain the gnocchi and place them on a cloth.”
Some other guidelines. I used 7 regular old yellow potatoes. The recipe says to squeeze as much water as possible from the grated raw potatoes, so grate directly onto a kitchen cloth and then use the cloth to get rid of all moisture by wrapping up the potatoes and squeezing it all out. What you are left with should be a very silky smooth dough of pure raw potato. After you have mixed all the ingredients together you will be left with a very sticky pasty substance. I was concerned that this would not hold together at all because previous gnocchi recipes I had used resulted in a dough that could be rolled out and cut into little dumplings. This dough will not be in any shape to be rolled out, it is far too wet.
Because I had a little time, I decided to test out the gnocchi at various consistencies. I made just one gnoccho, boiled some water, plopped it in and waited. I have typically heard that when a gnoccho rises to the top of the water, it is done. Not the case for these. Because the mixture is mostly raw potato you must cook it the 6-8 minutes that are recommended. The single gnoccho held together for the most part but lost its shape a bit along the outside, fraying out into whispy potato fractals. I decided that they needed a touch more flour to keep them together, but rather than adding flour to the mixture I threw a bunch of flour on a cutting board, used the spoons to shape a gnoccho from the mixture, plopped them on the flour, rolled them several times until the outside was lightly coated and then put them on a lightly floured baking sheet. This will take some time but it will create wonderfully delicate gnocchi which will keep whatever shape you decide to give them when they hit the water. I chilled the gnocchi in the fridge for several hours – I dont think this is necessary but I just had some time before dinner. When their time came, I plopped them in boiling salted water, let them cook for around 7 minutes, then retrieved them with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl. Meanwhile I melted some butter in a saucepan and for the finishing touch fried the gnocchi in the butter sprinkling a little more nutmeg over the top. This will give the outside of the gnocchi a nice thin crispy texture.
Served them with the sauce from this recipe, substituting the pancetta for guanciale because guanciale is superior in all respects. Damn good.