While I was growing up in Sao Roque, a small town near Sao Paulo, my aunt and cousin had a small business at home, they sold homemade frozen meals. I would help them in the kitchen some days during the week and on weekends. Saturday was especially for pasta, my aunt would make lasagna, cannelloni, gnocchi and I was responsible for cooking them.
At the time I thought it was kinda boring, what 16 year old teenager would like to spend every saturday cooking instead of going out with friends? But today I am thankful, I learned to cook a lot of things that people my age doesn’t have a clue. I love spending time making homemade gnocchi, it takes your mind out of anything.
This is my aunt’s recipe which I am happy to share.
3 pounds or 1,5 kg starchy potatoes
1 large egg
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon Maggi Fondor
400g all-purpose flour
1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into medium pieces, place them into a large pot and fill it with water until the potatoes are covered, then salt the water. Take the pot to the stove and as the water starts to boil cook the potatoes for 30 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes into a colander, and mash them using a ricer. Place the mashed potatoes into a large bowl, and when you are halfway through mashing add the butter into the bowl to let it melt while you finish. After mashing all potatoes mix it with a spoon and make sure all the butter is dissolved. Let it cool down enough so it won’t burn your hand when you start to knead.
3. Add the egg and Fondor to the potatoes and start kneading, when it’s all incorporated start adding the flour. You don’t want to use all flour at once, just go a little by little always kneading the dough. Once the dough is soft and not sticking on your hands, you hit the right point.
4. Place the dough onto a counter and roll it into one big piece, then cut it in 7 or 8 pieces. Sprinkle flour on top of the counter and roll one piece of dough into a snake-shape, a little thicker than your thumb. Use a knife to cut it into pieces the size that you wish, mine are not all the same size, but they are not to big. Place the pieces into a pan covered with flour. Repeat the process again until you finish the dough, always sprinkling flour on the counter so the dough doesn’t stick. Put a large pot with water to boil, there is no need to add salt or oil.
5. Cook the gnocchi in batches, take about 3 or 4 pieces from the pan into your hand and drop them one by one in the boiling water, you can put nearly 20 pieces each time. You will have no trouble guessing when they’re cooked, they simply pop up to the surface. Fish them out of the water with a slotted spoon and place them into a colander, using a plate below to hold the excess of water. Take the colander to the sink and rinse the gnocchi with cold water to wash off the excess of starch. Place the colander back to plate and let it drain until you put the next batch into the boiling water. Separate a large platter of your choice and swirl it with a little olive oil and place the drained gnocchi. Repeat all the process until all gnocchi is cooked. Each time you place the drained gnocchi into the platter don’t forget to swirl it with olive oil, it will keep it from sticking to much to each other. Note: Boil water in a kettle and reserve just in case the level of the water in your pot gets to low.
6. Pour onto the gnocchi a sauce of your taste, use a spoon to help you spread all over and in between. Sprinkle the top with grated parmesan and place it in the oven (low-medium heat) just to melt the cheese. Take the platter from the oven and serve immediately.
I always like to serve it with a mix of leafy salad and this time I also prepared breaded steak. For me, these three dishes make a wonderful combination!
This recipe is easier than it looks, but you definitely need time to do it if your doing it by yourself (usually what I do), but if someone is helping, you can divide the tasks. While one person is cutting the gnocchi, the other one can cook it, believe me, it goes much faster. But if your cooking all by yourself, don’t forget to put on some good music, I always do that when I’m in the kitchen, it cheers me up!
Hope you like it!