4 main course or 8 appetizer servings
It isn’t hard to make feather-light gnocchi. The main thing to keep in mind is this: the less flour you add and the less you handle the dough, the lighter the gnocchi will be. The less moisture there is in the potatoes before you start adding flour, the less flour you will need, so the following tips for making light gnocchi all have to do with removing as much moisture from the potatoes as possible:
Don’t overcook the potatoes – their skins will pop open and the flesh will soak up water.
Rice the potatoes while they are still quite warm and steaming—rubber gloves help.
Spread the riced potatoes out in a thin layer so the steam rising from them has a chance to escape.
Once you form gnocchi, they must be cooked or frozen immediately or they turn to mush. To freeze them, pop the tray with the gnocchi on them right into the freezer. When they are solid, scrape them into a resealable plastic bag.
- 4 large, unpeeled Idaho (russet) potatoes, (about 2 ¼ pounds), washed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- Dash of freshly ground white pepper
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, or as needed
Put the potatoes in a large pot and pour in enough cold water to cover them by at least three fingers. Bring to a boil and cook until they are tender when pierced with a skewer, about 40 minutes. Lift them out of the water and let stand just until cool enough to handle. The hotter the potatoes are when you peel and rice them, the fluffier the riced potatoes will be. Scrape the peels off the potatoes and rice the potatoes. Spread the riced potatoes out in a thin layer to expose as much of their surface as possible to the air.
While the potatoes are cooling, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat.
On a cool, preferably marble, work surface, gather the cold riced potatoes into a loose mound with a well in the center. Beat the eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and the white pepper together in a small bowl until blended and pour into the well. Work the potatoes and egg together with both hands, gradually adding as much flour as necessary to form a firm but moist dough. Stop frequently as you mix to scrape up the dough that sticks to the work surface and reincorporate it into the dough. Forming the dough should take no longer than 10 minutes from start to end. The longer the dough is worked, the more flour it will require and the heavier the dough- and the finished gnocchi- will be. As you work, dust the dough, your hands, and the work surface lightly with flour as soon as the dough begins to feel sticky.
Cut the dough into six equal portions. Using the outstretched fingers and palms of both hands, roll each piece of dough into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the rope crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Sprinkle the pieces with flour, then roll each piece between your palms into a rough ball. Reflour your hands as necessary to prevent sticking. Hold a fork at an angle to your work surface. Dip the tip of your thumb in flour. Take a dough ball and, with the tip of your floured thumb, press it lightly but firmly against the tines of the fork while, at the same time, rolling it downward along the tines. The dough will wrap around the tip of your thumb, forming a dumpling with a deep indentation on one side and a ridged surface on the other. (You can use the nongrating side of a flat or curved cheese grater for a different effect.) Set the gnocchi on a baking sheet lined with a lightly floured kitchen towel as you form them. Repeat with the remaining five pieces of dough. At this point the gnocchi must be cooked or frozen immediately.