It’s not a secret how addicted I am to cookbooks and after I discovered the amazing “Eat Your Books” I no longer felt guilty for buying so many of them because I actually use my books all the time – I cook and bake from them regularly. Some cookbooks I love because of their recipes, while others won my heart over for reasons other than food. Some of them get me really emotional, while others are a lot of fun to read, like Andrew Carmellini’s “Urban Italian”: not only is the food great, but his writing is equally wonderful. How could I not love a cookbook that mentions “Law & Order” and that asks for garlic sliced a la “Goodfellas”? :) And on top of that it’s Carmellini’s the recipe for the best gnocchi I have ever made.
The best gnocchi I have ever made
from the delicious and beautiful Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food
900g (2 pounds) Idaho potatoes, scrubbed (I used Asterix potatoes)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour + extra flour for rolling the gnocchi
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 200°C/400°F. Prick each potato several times with a fork and place on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan large enough to hold them all in a single layer. Bake until the potatoes are tender enough to be easily pierced with a small knife (about 1 hour).
Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool slightly—just enough so that you can handle them, not more. They should still be steaming when you cut them open (about 6 to 10 minutes). (If you let the potatoes get too cold, the proteins in the egg won’t bind with the potatoes, and your gnocchi will fall apart). Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Press the potato flesh through a ricer set over a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the beaten egg, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, melted butter, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of flour. The mixture should be stirred only until the ingredients are combined: anything more will overwork the dough, and your gnocchi will come out tough. Work the mixture into a smooth ball; if the dough seems a little too moist for this, add a touch of flour (the moisture level in every potato is different, so every batch of gnocchi will be a bit different, too).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Working quickly, divide the dough into 6 portions. Roll each portion into long logs, approximately 30cm (12in) long. Sprinkle the rolled-out logs with a tiny bit of flour to keep them from sticking to the surface. Cut each log into gnocchi-sized and place the pieces on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover this with a cloth or plastic wrap until you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, so they don’t dry out.
Cooking the gnocchi: bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the gnocchi in batches. Let the gnocchi cook until they rise to the surface (about 1-2 minutes); wait one more minute and then, using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi – I place them directly into the hot tomato sauce so they don’t stick together and grab as much flavor from the sauce as possible.
Serves 4 – this recipe served 3 at my house