While writing this post, I meant to look online for an anecdote or two about gnocchi. I told myself something like “today is Sunday, Sophie, don’t keep so serious, adopt a laid-back attitude and look for fun facts instead of going through the traditional and way too serious history of gnocchi”. Well, as surprising as it got, I couldn’t find anything but serious facts about this dish – until I stumbled upon this short paragraph on foodreference.com that said: “Gnocchi is Italian for dumplings. Gnocchi with tomato sauce is known as strangolapreti or strangoloprevete, meaning priest stranglers, because a local priest liked them so much, and ate them so fast, that he choked on them”.
Well, well, well… That was fun… for a minute! So, after I laughed my ass off (…not!), I considered stopping here the fun facts research. But I had actually smiled in small shock while reading this anecdote, so curiosity got into me and I researched further. This is what I finally came across. “Gnocchi can also be used as a weapon: in 1967, helicopters transporting sick and injured soldiers from Vietnam to hospitals in Germany were met by Helmet Wnter, who chased low-flying aircraft away with Bavarian dumplings fired from a homemade cross-bow. The US and West German Air Forces agreed to keep pilots above 1,500 feet when flying over the Munich suburb. Don’t be fooled though, the Germans really do love gnocchi. You can even visit the Potata Dumplings Museum in Germany and learn such things as “Erotic Facts about Gnocchi and Dumplings”… That is, if you like…
Well, well, well again… Let’s stop the research and let’s get to cooking! Gnocchi is a dish that is widely consumed in Nice (France) and in Italy likewise. I wouldn’t say it is part of my daily foods, nevertheless I eat gnocchi quite regularly, though I admit I often go for the store-bought version or the eating-out option (at one of my preferred local restaurants in Nice, check it out here, Pasta Basta). But today, I had no intention at all to go out of my apartment, so I got myself into making homemade potato gnocchi.
I must say the result was rather satisfying! Besides, for once, I have not encountered much difficulties rolling the gnocchi in order to give them their typical shape and correctly mark the stripes. Two things you should know when it comes to making gnocchi:
- the dough can’t remain sticky so it is mandatory to add a bit of flour when rolling the gnocchi if the dough sticks to your fingers, though you only can go bit by bit – meaning you can’t revise the original recipe ingredient doses to make the dough not sticky, but you only can add a small amount of flour when time comes to roll the small balls, for the sake of non-stickiness.
- the stripes are not an option, they are not here for the only sake of looks; indeed, the stripes allow for the sauce to adhere better when setting up the dish.
- 500 grams of potatoes
- 1 egg
- 150 grams of flour
- a bit more for rolling the gnocchi
- Boil the potatoes with a bit of gross sea salt, until they are super cooked. Wait for the potatoes to reach lukewarm temperature, peel them and very finely mash them (no grumps).
- Add the egg and salt, and roughly combine.
- Add the 150 grams of flour bit by bit, and combine well to form a dough.
- Line a large platter (or oven baking tray) with a baking sheet, or use a lightly floured kitchen towel if you prefer the eco-friendly option.
- Flour your working surface.
- With bare hands, form a smaller ball (it doesn’t need to be perfect), and roll a “sausage”. Just work one or two “sausages” of dough at a time.
- With a knife, cut small sections and roll the small balls onto the flour of your working surface.
- One by one, take a ball in one hand, hold a fork (its curve up) with your other hand, press the ball on top of the fork curve to flatten it down, then roll it down towards the tip of the fork. Here is your first gnocchi!
- Put the gnocchi on the tray, and get onto the next one.
- Once all the dough is used up and your gnocchi are formed, cover with a kitchen towel to prevent from drying.
- Boil a large pot of water.
- When the water is boiling, add a tiny bit of oil, your regular amount of salt, and carefully plunge the gnocchi into the water.
- The gnocchi are ready when they come back up to the surface (which will take about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Drain, and serve warm with your favorite sauce and grated Parmesan or Grana Padano!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2020 All Rights Reserved.