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Gli gnocchi – 6 to 8 servings
Time to prepare: 40 minutes, plus 1 hour to broil or boil the potatoes.
Gnocchi make for a great first course. They are less known than pasta as an Italian recipe, are somewhat easier to make than pasta, are very delicate in taste and aroma, and they will make you look great. They are also inherently Italian and are served with about any type of dressing. There are different ways to prepare the gnocchi. This is how they are prepared in Piedmont.
1 Kg of potatoes
200 gr. of wheat flour
A pinch of salt
Boil the potatoes, with their skin on, peel while warm, smash, and let rest for a few hours: this is meant to let the smashed potato dry out some, as well as to cool them. An alternative to boiling the potatoes is to cook them, with their skin on, in the oven, set at 1600 Celsius (or 3200 Fahrenheit) for about 40 minutes. I personally prefer to boil them and then have them rest overnight, but both procedures are perfectly acceptable. Add the egg, and about 100 gr. of wheat flour, mix well with your hands, put the dough on a plank and knead gently. Sprinkle with some wheat flour as necessary but DO NOT use all the flour. Cut a piece of dough then roll gently until it assumes a sausage-like shape, about 1.5 cm (0.6 inches) in diameter. The sausage like dough must have a soft consistency, and shall not stick to the plank. If it does, sprinkle the plank with wheat flour, and keep rolling the dough gently: it will not stick.Cut the sausage-like dough in pieces 1,5 cm long: if the consistency is right the cut pieces shall not stick to the knife. If they do, the dough is still too moist. If this is the case add some flour.
Now’s the trickiest part: gnocchi made in Piedmont are ridged: this technique increases the cooking surface of the gnocchi and also makes them look better than just sliced sausage. You do this by holding a fork at 300 angle and rolling each gnocco on it: by applying the right amount of pressure, the gnocco will be holed on one side and ridged on the other. You might have to practice his awhile: you’ll get it right one day. Put the gnocchi on a towel: you can cook them right away or keep them in a dry room for about 24 hours by sprinkling them with dry wheat flour and covering them with a towel.
A variant to this recipe is to use 100 gr. of wheat flour and 100 gr. of chestnut flower. The gnocchi will become slightly sweet: the taste and smell is unique. On top of that very few people, including our most renown cooks know about this recipe.
To cook, pour the gnocchi in boiling water, scoop as they start floating and pour in the frying pan where you have pre-heated the dressing. Stir gently and serve hot.
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