Monday, November 18, 2019

Hello, My Little Dumpling

So...guess what I did this weekend?

I made gnocchi di patate (potato gnocchi) from scratch!

When I was a kid, my paternal grandmother and her sister, Jennie, did all of the cooking for the family.  They are the ones who I get my meatball recipe from, who made braciole to die for, and who made gnocchi by hand.

Here's a picture of Aunt Jennie and Uncle Lawrence making gnocchi at our kitchen table in upstate New York in 1974.  They were and still are my favorite pasta.

Recently I was watching a Pasta Grannies video and came across a video that included homemade gnocchi.  The woman in the video, Giggina, is from Ischia, an island in the Gulf of Naples in Italy.  She threw together this pranzo (lunch) in record time!

There's really not a recipe.  This gnocchi, like the ones my family made, is made from potatoes and flour.  So I started by boiling russet potatoes until they were fork tender.  While they were still hot but not too hot to handle, I peeled the potatoes and put them in a bowl.  My Aunt Jennie used a potato ricer, but I don't have one so I just mashed them with my potato masher. If I made these more often, I'd probably buy a ricer because the potato pieces come out more uniform.  

Once I had my bowl of mashed potatoes, I took a giant glob of them and added an equal amount of Semolina Flour.  I didn't measure anything, just watched the video and did it like Giggina did, mixing the dough by hand and measuring ingredients by eye.
You don't want to overwork the dough, just incorporate enough flour so the dough is no longer sticky.  Once I got to that point, I cut off a chunk and rolled it into a rope about 1/2' thick, then cut pieces (see photo below) about 3/4" to 1" long.

My grandmother and Aunt Jennie used to "flick" the pieces of dough, by hand, using their thumb to create a little dent as they flicked them away from their body.  Giggina was using a gnocchi board, so I bought one of those because I like the ridges and she made it look so easy.

Moment of truth:  It's not that easy.

I flicked and rolled but it took me a lot longer than what I saw in the video.  Of course, Giggina's probably been making gnocchi for more than 50 years and can roll and flick in her sleep.
 Look at these little beauties!  Perfect ridges, dusted with semolina flour. 
I should have weighed the entire lot when I finished making them but I didn't.  They're a heavy pasta so I'd say based on what I loaded onto the plate, I probably had between four and five pounds.  They actually tasted very light, though.  Magic!

To cook the gnocchi, just drop them into a pot of salted boiling water and fish them out when they start to float.  Don't crowd the pot, cook them in batches.

Can I just say that these little puffy-pillow-turned ridged-beauties were delicious??

I made a basic marinara sauce with shallots and garlic sautéed in olive oil, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, a little bit of salt, a pinch of hot pepper flakes, and fresh basil from the plant on my kitchen counter.

I tossed the gnocchi in the marinara, then used my microplane grater to grate delicate threads of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the entire platter.  

This meal was AMAZING!

The gnocchi were lighter than I anticipated because the only other time I made them they were heavy, like little cement balls.  These were just delicious.  They tasted like I remember my grandmother and Aunt Jennie's tasted.  They tasted like the ones I get at my favorite place to go for gnocchi.  They tasted exactly as they were supposed to taste.

Who's coming for pranzo?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Colorful Confections
2017: The Opposite Of Being Seen And Not Heard
2016: El Ed Rides El Tour
2015: Not Everything Is Lost
2014: Hairspray Is Gross
2013: Breathing Retro Life Into The West End Of A Miracle Mile
2012: A Little Bit Of Wyoming
2011: A Franchophile’s Paradise

2010: 10 Things I Learned On My Vacation In Italy
2009: A Beautiful Deep Fried Pocket Of Cornmeal Dough. Or, My Mom.
2008: A Foxy Furry Little Friend
2007: The One That Got Away
2006: Don’t We All?
2005: Miss Singular

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