Active time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Before we start
I’ve always enjoyed eating gnocchi, but I wasn’t always a fan of making them. Many of the tricks to making great fresh pasta don’t apply to gnocchi, so I’ve learned a lot from failing more than a few times—to the point where gnocchi and I are now pretty good friends. Here are some of my biggest tips:
Dry potatoes are good potatoes, so keep the skins on when you cook them. This provides a barrier so they don’t absorb too much water. Or, if you have a little extra time, bake the potatoes at 400°F until tender, about 60 to 70 minutes.
Rice or mash the potatoes while they’re still warm, but make sure to cool them completely before making the dough. (You don’t want the moisture from the steam making its way into your gnocchi.) I like to spread the riced potatoes on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to absorb any excess moisture and allow all the steam to escape. I also pat them dry again before using them.
If you’re looking for light and airy gnocchi, keep the flour to a minimum and knead the dough until just combined. The more you work the dough, the more the potatoes release their starch and things start to get gluey.
680 grams (1½ pounds, about 2 large) floury baking potatoes like Russets
125 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
3 grams (1 teaspoon) kosher salt
1 egg yolk, beaten
30 grams (1 ounce) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Make the dough
Submerge the potatoes (skin-on) in a pot of well-salted cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes.
Drain the potatoes thoroughly. When they’re cool enough to handle but still warm, remove the skins (they should peel right off!).
Pass the potatoes through a ricer. (Alternatively, you can gently mash them with a potato masher or fork, but make sure to remove any large undercooked pieces.) Spread the potatoes out on a paper towel-lined sheet pan so the steam can evaporate. Cool completely, then pat dry with more paper towels to remove any excess moisture before using.
Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl and make a large hole (or "well") in the center. Add half of the potatoes, the egg yolk, half the cheese, if using, and a generous grating of nutmeg, if using, to the well. Use your hands to pull some of the flour from the sides of the bowl into the center and press it in. Once everything is coated in a little flour, add the rest of the potatoes, cheese, and nutmeg. Scoop the remaining flour from the sides and bottom of the bowl and gently fold everything together until you have a shaggy mass.
Transfer the dough to a work surface and gently knead until everything is evenly incorporated and there are no traces of flour on the surface, about 90 seconds (the mixture should be homogenous but not particularly smooth).
Shape the gnocchi
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and dust it in flour.
Cut off a large piece of dough, about the width of two of your fingers. Dust the dough with flour and gently roll into a thick rope, about ¾ inch in diameter, then cut the rope into about 1-inch pillows, or of desired size. You can leave the gnocchi as-is (great for smooth and creamy sauces) or roll them across the back of a fork or gnocchi board to create ridges (ideal for more rustic tomato and meat sauces).
Arrange the gnocchi in a single layer the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Cook the gnocchi
Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of well-salted boiling water until they float, then for 30 seconds more.
Once boiled, I prefer to pan fry potato gnocchi. To do so, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large non-stick skillet, about ¼ cup (60 ml), over medium-high. Transfer the gnocchi to the hot oil and cook undisturbed in a single layer until golden, 3 to 5 minutes, then flip and repeat (you might need to do this in batches).
Serve as desired: pictured below with burrata and tomato confit (see here for the recipe on Food52).
For longer-term storage, cook the gnocchi in boiling water until they float. Transfer them to a clean dish cloth to air-dry, then freeze them uncovered on a parchment-lined tray until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. Cook in well-salted boiling water straight from frozen; no need to thaw.