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Gnancy's Gnocchi Are Occhi-Docchi

Nancy Leson
Nancy's gnocchi – rolled, ridged and ready to boil. ";

I've never been able to make Italian potato Gnocchi (NYOH-kee).  I admitted my secret shame to Nancy Leson in this week's Food for Thought. "I just end up with this soggy, waterlogged mess.  They almost dissolve.  Where am I goin' wrong, here?"  Nancy's answer was a question.

"First of all, Stein, before you make the dough," she demanded "do you boil the potatoes or bake them?"

I affirmed thatI boiled the potatoes before mixing them with flour and egg for the gnocchi dough.  "There's your first mistake," she pointed out.  "I did that for years because I followed the recipe in the Beard on Pasta book.  But while I used that for years I threw Beard over for another local guy."  

Now Nancy's go-to recipe for potato gnocchi is from Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen.

Basic Potato Gnocchi (serves four) adapted from “Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen” Gnancy’s Gnotes: This recipe is easily doubled, or even tripled, and the uncooked gnocchi, once formed, may be frozen (on sheet pans) then stored in zip-lock bags for later use. You may use all-purpose flour, but Italian "00" flour, available at specialty grocers, is preferable. If you don’t have a ricer, use a sturdy fork to lightly mash the “innards” of the baked potatoes. And whatever you do: Don’t throw out the leftover baked potato-skins! Snack on them hot, or fry ‘em up and serve them with eggs the next day. Serve with your favorite sauce. My preference? Browned butter, flavored with fresh sage and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Ingredients 2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed Extra virgin olive oil, for rubbing potatoes Kosher salt 2 large fresh egg yolks, at room temperature 1/2 cup Italian "00" flour, plus more for dusting 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour, or until tender. 2. Transfer the potatoes to a rack and let rest until cool enough to handle. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Put the potatoes through a ricer, letting them fall onto the parchment, setting aside the skins as you go. 3. Spread the potatoes out on the parchment and allow them to rest until warm, but not hot enough to cook the egg yolks. Dump the potatoes into a medium-size bowl. Add the egg yolks and stir to combine. 4. Sprinkle flour over the top of the mixture and knead gently in the bowl until the egg and flour are distributed. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and continue to knead, adding extra flour as necessary, until the dough is no longer sticky. 5. Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter into a log about 1/2 inch in diameter, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces. 6. If your recipe calls for sauteing the gnocchi, you can leave them as little dumplings. If boiling and you want to create ridges to hold sauce, use either a gnocchi paddle (pictured bottom right, above) or the times of a fork. For the gnocchi paddle, roll each dumping gently but firmly diagonally across the paddle, letting each dumpling fall onto a well-floured sheet pan as you finish. To use a fork, just roll the dumpling down the back of the tines, creating little grooves. You can hold the gnocchi on a baking sheet, so long as they are not touching, for a few hours or blanch them immediately, which will hold them for up to a day in the refrigerator. To blanch, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi, 15 to 20 at a time, just until they float to the surface, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a warm platter. Add sauce and serve immediately or place on an oiled baking sheet, cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for reheating and serving later.

"I am the emperor and I want dumplings"

--  Ferdinand I of Austria

KPLU's Cookie Monsters

What better way for Nancy and me to help  to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Samoa Girl Scout Cookie than to dress up as one?  Get some today!

We'll do anything for GS cookies. Happy 40th, Samoas!

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.