Kids love gnocchi. Adults love gnocchi. Even our household pets eat gnocchi (without the cheese, of course). There is something about the warming feeling of satisfaction after eating a plate of delicious gnocchi that makes this little dumpling rank high on everyone’s list. Potato gnocchi is something I made often as a child, helping Grandma and Mom prepare usually Sunday dinner. People shy away from making gnocchi, but they are rather simple to make. There are two things to remember, once you have riced the potatoes, spread them out and let them cool completely. Do not overknead the dough, but rather work the dough and flour just enough to incorporate the ingredients together.
6 large Idaho or russet potatoes
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt
dash of freshly ground white pepper
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups unbleached flour
grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
Boil the potatoes in their skins about 40 minutes, until easily pierced with a skewer. When cool enough to handle, peel and rice the potatoes, and set them aside to cool completely, spreading them loosely to expose as much surface as possible to air.
Bring 6 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of the salt to a boil in a large pot. On a cool, preferably marble work surface, gather the cold potatoes into a mound, forming a well in the center. Stir the remaining 1 tsp. salt and the white pepper into the beaten eggs, and pour the mixture into the well. Work the potatoes and eggs together with both hands, gradually adding 3 cups of the flour and scraping the dough up from the work surface with a knife as often as necessary. (Incorporation of the ingredients should take no longer than 10 minutes--the longer you work it, the more flour it will require and the heavier it will become).
Dust the dough, your hands, and the work surface lightly with flour and cut the dough into six equal parts. (Continue to dust as long as the dough feel sticky.) Using both hands, roll each piece of dough into a rope ½” thick, then slice the ropes at ½” intervals. Indent each dumpling with a thumb, or use the tines of a fork to produce a ribbed effect. (This helps the sauce stick to the gnocchi).
Drop the gnocchi into boiling water a few at a time, stirring gently and continuously with a wooden spoon, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until they float up to the surface. Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer them to a warm platter, adding a little sauce of choice. Add freshly ground white pepper to taste and, if appropriate, grated cheese, and serve immediately.
Gnocchi can be delicious with just butter and cheese or sage and butter sauce or plain tomato sauce.