Friday, February 18, 2011


We're going to make gnocchi with an Italian chef this evening. One of the secrets to making good Italian food is using fresh local ingredients--so we'll be heading to the market. Start with some good potatoes--that's key. We'll need the perfect balance of potatoes and flour--too much of one is a disaster. Like Keith Richards says, "You need rock AND roll," which explains not only the gastronomical balance of potatoes and flour but also the attitude you need to make gnocchi.

You need rock AND roll

After we make some gnocchi we'll take a walk through a market in Catania, Sicily. No, gnocchi didn't originate in Sicily, but regionalism means less nowadays and gnocchi are enjoyed wherever Italian food is eaten from the trattorias of Rome to the seaside tables of Cinque Terre, from the osterias in the chilly north to the family-run restaurants of the sun-baked south. And maybe your neighborhood, too.

The Roman legions introduced gnocchi to the far-flung corners of the empire, so isn't it about time you encountered these delicious cloudlike dumplings? In our Italian American household (should I say Calabrese/Sicilian/American household?) we've enjoyed these plucky little pillows for as long as I can remember. For birthdays we got to pick our favorite meals, and my choice was always gnocchi. Mom is the expert and she still makes them by hand, several varieties from Gnocchi di Semolina to potato gnocchi (my favorite). When non-hyphenated Americans talk about "comfort food" they usually mean bland, familiar meals like roast beef and mashed potatoes, but gnocchi top my comfort food list. Oh, and they're pronounced "NYO-key."

1 comment:

Bob Rini said...


Gnocchi Recipe (Courtesy of Mario Batali)

12 servings of gnocchi


* 3 pounds russet potatoes
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 egg, extra large
* 1 pinch salt
* 1/2 cup canola oil


Boil the whole potatoes until they are soft (about 45 minutes). While still warm, peel and pass through vegetable mill onto clean pasta board.

Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot. Set up ice bath with 6 cups ice and 6 cups water near boiling water.

Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour, using all the flour. Place egg and salt in center of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes, just like making normal pasta. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.

Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Flick pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished. Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and flicking off of fork. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/2 cup canola oil and store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve.