Worthy of a Carb Coma

by

All photos by Ray Hydrick.

I just woke up from my carb coma, that lull you fall in after a great meal where your eyelids are heavy and you have those uncontrollable yawn fits, and I couldn’t be happier.  Usually, you eat that less than superior meal and think, “Why did I eat that?!”  But with this recipe, you’ll welcome the slumber that you get after a comforting, feel-good meal.  I made homemade gnocchi.  Gnocchi are those small pillowy “pasta” made from potatoes, a little flour and an egg.  You may automatically think that pasta made from potatoes would have the consistency of a tater-tot or have the same weight of a small rock or your Aunt Libby’s kidney stone, but surprisingly they are soft and tender.

I researched several different recipes from that of famous chefs, like Mario Batali, to those recipes of the little grandmas that have used the same ones since they were little girls; though basically the same, I chose to use Mario’s but with one modification.  I chose to half the recipe.  Mario’s recipe had me making 12 servings of gnocchi.  That kind of carb coma would put me in full on hibernation – like a grizzly bear in winter. 

You can use gnocchi like any other pasta.  I give a few suggestions for sauces at the end of the post.  Let’s get started.

 Basic Gnocchi Recipe
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, around the same size
1 cup flour and more for dusting
1 large egg, beaten

Place the potatoes in a large sauce pan and cover with COLD water about an inch or so over the potatoes.  Bring to boil and cook for approx. 30 minutes or until the skewer can easily pierce a potato but the skin is not split. 

Tip o’ the Day:  When boiling potatoes, always start with cold water.  Using hot water makes the starches in the potatoes more gluey.  Think of mashed potatoes with that wallpaper paste consistency.

When the potatoes are done, it is important to peel them immediately – they are easier to peel when they are hot.  Place the potato in a kitchen towel and using a paring knife, carefully peel the skin.  It will come off easily. 

If you are careful, you won't burn yourself...but believe me, it's easier when they are hot.

After the potatoes are peeled, use a potato ricer (see pic below) and place the resulting mixture on a sheet pan.  Like the Play-Doh toy that makes hair, this device squeezes the potatoes through holes and makes pieces that will be easy to incorporate (try it making mashed potatoes, you may never be the same).  After ricing the potatoes, spread the potatoes out on the sheet pan to cool. 

See, it looks like a Play-Doh hair maker!

Meanwhile, go ahead and get a large pasta pot of salted water on to boil (if you are planning on storing the gnocchi to make later, get a big bowl of ice water ready).  Also, flour your cutting board or a clean surface to knead dough.

Once the potatoes are cool, pile the potatoes on board or surface and make a hole in the middle.  Sprinkle the cup of flour on the potatoes.  Add the beaten egg in the hole you created at the center of the potatoes.  Using a fork, gently pull the potato mixture into the egg. 

Looks like a mess now, but it gets better.

Eventually, you will use you hands to bring the mixture together into a ball.  The mixture is sticky, lightly dust with extra flour.  Knead for no more than 3 minutes and form into a ball – kneading more that 3 minutes will result in gnocchi that feel like Aunt Libby’s kidney stone.

Almost done kneading...needed a little more flour.

Cut the dough into 4-5 portions.  Roll each portion into a “snake” (and you thought the things you learned in kindergarten you would never use) about 1/2 inch in diameter. 

Look Ma, I can make a dough snake!

Cut into 1/2 inch portions. 

I guess it was 1/2 inch...I was cutting really fast.

This is the fun part…fun if you like a lot of manual labor.  Use the pictures below are reference – take each dough piece and roll them on the tines of a fork.  My first ones looked like sad, deformed snails but I got the hang of it.

Easy as 1,2,3,4...to be honest, I hated this part.

Place them on a floured sheet pan.

Don't forget to flour or you will have sad, sticky gnocchi.

Place a small portion in the salted, boiling water.  Let the gnocchi boil until they float.  Floating = done. 

I was so excited when I saw them float...it was like seeing your Sea Monkies swim for the first time!

If you are using the gnocchi immediately, place directly in the sauce of your choice.  If you are making the gnocchi in advance, place the cooked gnocchi in the ice water to stop the cooking. 

An icy bath to stop the cooking.

Place on a sheet pan covered with a dusted tea towel.    When ready to use, place the gnocchi back in the salted water for 1-2 minutes or until the float. 

A flour dusted tea towel keeps the gnocchi from sticking

Possible Sauces:
Tomato Cream Sauce – This sauce came to me as an accident.  I was watching Ina Garten the other morning and she made pasta sauce that isn’t cooked – it’s her Summertime Pasta.  I made that macerated cherry tomatoes the night before to eat for dinner one night.  I added a few tablespoons to a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. 

This was good by itself.

 I added a teaspoon butter and 1/4 cup of cream.  I simmered to it thickened and added the gnocchi. 

A little cream never hurt anything, right?

I think Ray licked the bowl. 

Before Ray knocked me unconscious to eat this all to himself.

Pesto – Add a couple of tablespoons of pesto (homemade or store-bought) to a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Once bubbling, add the gnocchi.  Stir to coat.  Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Tomato Sauce – use a store-bought or homemade and do as above.  Add 1/4 cup to a non-stick pan.  Add the gnocchi, stir to coat.  Serve with freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil. (Pic at beginning of post)

Appetizer Idea:
In a non-stick, over medium-high heat add two tablespoons butter.  Once melted add thin slices of sage.  Add COLD-wet gnocchi to the pan.  Saute’ until gnocchi is brown and crisp.  Serve with fresh grated parmesan.  This dish is very rich, so it is perfect for a small-portion appetizer.

If it was legal to marry these, I would.

Try this different wonderfully delicious recipe.  Sure you may be sleepy an hour afterwards but at least it’s a “good sleepy”. 🙂

By the way…
If you want to store the gnocchi for using the next day or two, place the gnocchi in an air tight container and add enough olive or canola oil to coat.  This will keep moist and they won’t stick together.  Don’t worry…that oil will come off when you throw it back in the boiling salt water.

I loving message from the gnocchi.

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