I was babysitting my nephews the other day, and I had wanted to make gnocchi, and I figured I can tell them it’s noodles and cheese, and their little brains couldn’t decipher the difference…it was a great diabolical plan.
Gnocchi – apparently some people don’t really like it
but I love it. So much so, that when I was dating, my go to first date was The Pasta Factory in Teaneck (back when it was dairy) and even if the date wasn’t so good, at least I got to have some good gnocchi.
I’m not sure why I love it so much, but it could be because it reminds me of knuckedlach…I have zero idea how to spell that, but it’s this Hungarian dish that my grandmother makes. It’s basically little dumplings made out of a flour-water combo, thats boiled, and served with chicken. I don’t know what my favorite food is, but it would definitely be up there.
Gnocchi looks similar, and sounds similar, but it made out of potatoes. It’s actually quite simple to make…if you’re awesome like me…I kid. It’s pretty easy, all you need is cooked potatoes (and there’s no need for having to turn on your oven for this one…more on that in a second), eggs, and flour. A potato ricer comes in handy, but since I’m pretty sure none of us have one (myself included) I have another way to get the potato to that consistency.
I saw this recipe on Foodwishes, which was the first food blog I started following, and he’s probably the second funniest food blogger out there, and he has videos which are great. His recipe is for one potato, but I used three.
About the cooking of said potatoes. Potatoes are very starchy, and therefore hard when not cooked, however, when heated, they start to absorb water, which is why they’re mushy, but it also explains why they are mealy – namely because the water is absorbed into the cells, so there’s no moisture present outside of it. This is why when making mashed potatoes, we add in another type of fat, ie a lubricant, to help coat the cells, so it’s more mushy, and less mealy.
Either way – traditionally there are two ways to cook potatoes, in the oven or in water. Using water is great, because it cooks much faster (bring water to boil, dump in potatoes, and wait 30-35 mins or so), but I feel the water leaches away a lot of the flavor. The next option is to use the oven, where you have to preheat the oven 350, poke some holes in the tater, and rub some oil on it, and let it sit there for at least an hour, possibly more. The reason why it takes longer is because air is a terrible conductor of heat, whereas water is much better (that’s why if you want to defrost something in a hurry, aside from using a silver platter [the best household conductor of heat], put your frozen food in water, and it will defrost much quicker than if it was left out…and I hope you’re doing all this in the fridge, because if you defrost your stuff outside of the fridge, even in water, the bacteria police will find you..I know, a little off topic, sorry…).
In this day and age, there has to be a quicker way to cook potatoes, and look no further than the microwave. The microwave works by sending out waves of radiation, at a certain frequency, and that forces water, and any other polarized molecules to rotate back and forth, ie they move around, and without getting more into it, moving molecules = hot molecules. So in the microwave, the radiation “cooks” the water molecules in the potatoes, which causes the internal temperature to go up, and that causes the starch to start to absorb water, yada yada yada, you have cooked potatoes.
Ok enough science
I took the potatoes and poked some holes in them (didn’t want the potatoes to explode on me), and cooked for about 14 minutes.
I took them out, and took off the skin. The skin separates pretty easily
but these potatoes were boiling, so besides peeling them with my hands, I also used a spoon.
Then to get them to the consistency I wanted (without a potato ricer), I put the potatoes in a sieve, and pushed them through with a wooden spoon
I took two eggs, whisked them, and mixed it together with the potatoes with a fork
I then added the flour. I started with 1/2 cup, and kept going 1/4 cup at a time, and finished before I used up the whole cup. You don’t want it too floury, so just add exactly enough.
I took the potato mixture and put it on the counter, and shaped it into a loaf
cut it into four chunks. Then I took each chunk (and after doing the “truffle shuffle”…) I rolled it out to form a long “snake.”
I took my bench scraper, and cut the snake up into small little pillows.
Traditionally gnocchi has these little ridges in them, which they say allows for the sauce to adhere better to it. For the first few I did that by taking a fork and running the gnocchi on the tines, to create little ridges, but by the end I got tired of doing that, so if you wanna be fancy go ahead and do it.
I brought water to a boil, and because I didn’t add any salt to the gnocchi, I salted the water really well. These things cook up really quickly and is really easy to tell when they are done, because the ones that are done, float to the top, so it really helps if you have something you can use to skim the gnocchi out of the water with, like a sieve, or even better a spider. They take around 30 seconds. And when they were done, I just dumped them into my alfredo sauce.
This is my version of alfredo sauce, and it was pretty good. Alfredo sauce is normally cream and butter, with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Being that it’s pretty fattening, and I still had that fat free half and half, I decided instead of the cream, I’ll use the half and half. You’d think I learned my lesson, and stop experimenting with that half and half…well it’s a good think I didn’t learn my lesson, because this time it actually worked. I took a cup of the half and half, 1/2 stick of butter (I’m sorry Baruch), and heated it up together with some parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper, and that’s it. This came out really buttery, so you can really use less then 1/2 stick and get away with it, and you can probably even use olive oil if you’re so inclined.
By the way – this alfredo sauce can be used with fettuccine or any other type of pasta if you would like.
When I took the gnocchi out of the water, I put it straight into the alfredo sauce, and let it hang out there.
The gnocchi doesn’t lap up the sauce, so when you serve it, you might wanna put it in a bowl, just throw some more parmesan cheese and fresh pepper on top, and enjoy
If you really wanna go all out, maybe make some rustic bread to go with this, so you can dip it into that amazing sauce…oh well maybe next time
Naki’s Gnocchi with Alfredo Sauce
- Cook potatoes in the microwave for about 7-14 minutes, depending on how many potatoes you have, and how thick they are
- Push the potatoes through a sieve, add eggs, and flour and form into a dough
- Form the dough into a loaf, and separate into 4 chunks
- Take each chunk and roll out into a snake
- Cut the snake into little “pillows” and run along tines of fork if you want ridges, and drop into boiling water
- Skim when the gnocchi floats back to the top, and put right into whatever sauce you decide to use
- 1 cup Cream (I used fat free Half and Half)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- Heat the cream, butter, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper until it’s all melted and combined.
- Keep warm while the gnocchi is still cooking, and put the cooked gnocchi in the cream when it is ready