When I’m making dinner I generally count on one potato per person. Who can’t eat a whole potato? I can eat several potatoes. Fried, mashed, boiled, raw … doesn’t make a difference.
So for Thanksgiving dinner I peeled up 13 potatoes for my 13 guests then threw in a few more for good luck (and myself). That would make just enough mashed potatoes in my estimation for 13 people to have with their turkey, stuffing, turnip, green beans, rolls, pumpkin soup and tomato salad. And pie. And ice cream. And a little more stuffing while standing in the kitchen, cleaning up after dinner. And the other pie.
I may have overestimated everyone else’s ability to eat mashed potatoes until it bursts out of their belly button because I ended up with leftover mashed potatoes.
I had 6 cups of leftover mashed potatoes.
When my sister was helping me clean up she asked if I wanted to keep them. “YES! YES! YES!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, YESSSSS I WANT TO KEEP THE MASHED POTATOES! Who are you??”
At the time I said I’d make potato pancakes with some and give the rest to the chickens. You may not know this about chickens, but chickens loveeee mashed potatoes.
Then a couple of days later when it came time to deal with the mountain of mashed potatoes, I had a potato epiphany. It came in the form of a tiny Italian angel who ran up my spine, over my head, down my face and kicked me in the nose.
His name was Gnocchi.
I haven’t made Gnocchi in years because the fella claimed he didn’t like it. I’m not sure he ever tried it. I’m positive he’s an idiot, because gnocchi is a food sent from the angels. Granted, they’re the kind of angels who kick you in the nose … but nobody likes a goody goody.
If you aren’t completely familiar with it, I’ll explain what Gnocchi is exactly. It’s basically a little dumpling that looks like pasta but is actually made with mashed potatoes. (sometimes it’s made with other things, but we’re focusing on potato gnocchi today since it’s the most popular) There is some flour and egg added in, like a regular pasta, but the base ingredient is potato.
They can be served with tomato sauce, or browned butter and sage leaves, or butter and parmesan cheese. Or anything else you can think up.
This is not a “recipe” you need to be too concerned about measurements.
Generally speaking it’s 2 parts mashed potato, 1 part flour and 1 egg per 2 cups of potatoes.
For this batch here I worked with:
2 cups cold mashed potatoes
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
3/4 tsp. salt
Dump half of your flour onto your work surface.
Dump your mashed potatoes onto the flour.
Form a well in the potatoes and pour your egg in it.
Pour half the remaining flour (1/2 a cup) on top.
Work the egg, salt and flour into the potatoes using either your hands or a pastry scraper.
Once everything is roughly incorporated, gently knead the dough like you would pasta for a couple of minutes. Do not over knead. At this point you can incorporate the rest of the flour if you need it. If the dough is still too sticky to handle or roll out, you need more flour.
Again, be careful not to add too much flour, or your gnocchi will be dense and tough.
Divide your dough into workable pieces.
Roll the dough out until it’s around 3/4 ” in diameter.
Using your pastry cutter or a knife, cut the rope into lengths of 3/4″.
Now you have to decide how you want to shape your gnocchi. By pressing it with your thumb, or rolling it on a fork.
To get the classic ribs on the gnocchi, roll each piece down the tines of a fork. It’s takes some practice, but you’ll get the hang of it.
You aren’t just sliding it down the fork, you need to roll it down. Once you do it right the first time you’ll yell, “ah HAH!”.
And then you’ll run outside to drag someone in to show them.
To make the thumbprint version, just poke your finger into the centre of the gnocchi. Both versions are fine. The reason you NEED to do one of these two methods is because it’s the ridges and the indent that helps holds whatever sauce you’re putting on them.
If you’re planning to freeze some gnocchi, lightly flour a baking sheet, place the gnocchi on it and freeze. Once frozen you can remove them from the pan and immediately put them in baggies or a widemouth mason jar. These then go back in the freezer. Work as quickly as possible so the gnocchi doesn’t have a chance to thaw out at all (because then they’ll stick to each other).
To cook your gnocchi, drop them in salted, boiling water. They’re done when they float. To make them even MORE delicious, pan fry them for a couple of minutes in butter and/or oil.
Then you can either top the gnocchi with any old red sauce you can get your hands on, or you can take it a step further and serve Gnocchi with browned butter and crispy sage leaves.
All this because I made an extra 6 cups of mashed potatoes. I won’t make that mistake again next year. I’ll make sure I have at least 8.