Gnocchi di Patate
My father makes the best, tender, melt in your mouth gnocchi in the world, and a close second is Michael Chiarello’s, one of my favorite celebrity chefs. I once tried Michael's gnocchi several years ago at Bottega, his restaurant in Napa Valley. By the way, whenever I go to a new Italian restaurant for the first time, I use their gnocchi as my benchmark for rating the restaurant and determining if I’ll return for another meal. Gnocchi, if made right, should be light and airy and have a melt-in-your-mouth texture. It should, in no way, shape, or form be dense or heavy, like most gnocchi I've had in Italian restaurants. Michael Chiarello's gnocchi did not disappoint - they were soft, delicate, and delicious with a silky-smooth texture—just like my father’s. And I can't wait to go back to Bottega. Below is Michael Chiarello's recipe for potato gnocchi. I’ve adapted it only slightly, using Yukon Gold potatoes instead of Russet.
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Michael Chiarello’s Bottega: Bold Italian Flavors from the Heart of California's Wine Country
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
- 3 to 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiana
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting board and dough
- 1 recipe for simple red cream sauce
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Step 2: Bake potatoes until a bit overcooked, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes), cut in half, and scoop out the flesh. It's important to make the dough while the potatoes are still hot, or you risk serving tough, chewy gnocchi.
Step 3: Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer. You should have about 2 cups.
Step 4: Make a mound of potatoes on the counter. Add half of the flour on top of the mound of potatoes. Make a well in the middle, add egg yolks, the cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Start mixing with hands.
Step 5: As you mix, fold the mass over on itself and press down again. Sprinkle on more flour, little by little, folding and pressing the dough until it just holds together. Try not to knead it. Work any dough clinging to your fingers back into the dough. If the mixture is too dry, add another egg yolk or a little water. The dough should give under slight pressure. It will feel firm but yielding. To test if the dough is the correct consistency, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2-inch in diameter. If the dough holds together, it is ready. If not, add more flour, fold and press the dough several more times, and test again.
Step 6: Keeping your work surface and the dough lightly floured, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. Lightly flour the gnocchi as you cut them. You can cook these as is or form them into the classic gnocchi shape with a gnocchi board, ridged butter paddle, or the tines of a large fork turned upside down.
Step 7: To use a gnocchi board to form your gnocchi: Rest the bottom edge of the gnocchi board on the work surface, then tilt it at about a 45 degree angle. Take each piece and squish it lightly with your thumb against the board while simultaneously pushing it away from you. It will roll away and around your thumb, taking on a cupped shape -- with ridges on the outer curve from the board and a smooth surface on the inner curve where your thumb was. The indentation holds the sauce and helps gnocchi cook faster.
Step 8: As you shape the gnocchi, dust them lightly with flour and scatter them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or waxed paper. If you don't plan to cook the gnocchi until the next day or later, freeze them (see Step 10).
Step 9: When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Drop in the gnocchi and cook for about 90 seconds from the time they rise to the surface. Remove the cooked gnocchi with a skimmer, shake off the excess water, and serve as desired.
Step 10: To freeze shaped gnocchi, line baking sheets with waxed paper and dust with flour. Spread the gnocchi on the prepared sheets and freeze until hard. Remove to individual-portion-size freezer bags. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. To cook, drop the frozen gnocchi into boiling salted water. Cook for about 2 minutes after they rise to the surface.
Step 11: Serve immediately with your favorite sauce. I used a simple red cream sauce.