Home made gnocchi, not as scary as you might think and when they are right, they are nuggets of soft pillowy goodness that just melt in your mouth. The word 'gnocchi', derived from the Italian word 'nocchio', which means a knot is in wood. But it's not only a dish served in Italy, gnocchi are served in France, known as 'gnocchis à la parisienne, Croatia, called 'njoki', and South America, called 'nhoque'.
With only 3 ingredients, potato, flour and salt, makes them easy to prepare and there's not really anywhere you can make a mistake.
Other than super soft potatoes, the other key to soft fluffy dough is to only add enough flour to bring the dough together, but to not over knead the dough which will develop the gluten in the flour and make them tough. Rolling the gnocchi over a gnocchi board or fork to make the ridges, helps sauce to adhere to the them.
What you will notice in the cheese sauce recipe is that it does not call for cream or milk. By using chicken stock it adds more flavor, but milk or cream can be substituted.
For the gnocchi
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into large pieces
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
For the cheese sauce
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chicken stock (recipe) or vegetable stock (recipe), warmed
- 1 cup Fontina cheese, grated
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- Small pinch fresh nutmeg
For the gnocchi
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Fill a large saucepan with water.
- Add the potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.
- Boil the potatoes until they are very soft.
- Drain and set run through a food mill, or ricer for nice smooth potato.
- Put the potatoes in the fridge until they are cool, this will help keep them fluffy.
- Prepare 2 sheet pans by dusting them with flour, set aside.
- On a clean work surface mix together the potato and the flour and knead for about 4-5 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth. Only add enough flour so the dough comes together and is not tacky.
- Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll one 1 quarter of the dough into a 3/4 inch log.
- Cut the log into 3/4 inch pieces.
- Roll the pieces over a gnocchi board or the back of a fork to create ridges onto the floured sheet pan in a single layer.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Let the rolled gnocchi dry out for about 1 hour before cooking.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, turn the heat to a gently boil, so you don't break up the gnocchi.
- Add the gnocchi and boil for about 3 minutes, or until they rise to the top.
For the cheese sauce (while the gnocchi is cooking)
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.
- Whisk in the flour and whisk until flour turns golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Add the warm stock and continue to whisk until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
- Add the fontina and parmesan cheese and stir with a spoon until melted.
- Stir in the chopped sage and nutmeg.
- Stir in the cooked gnocchi and transfer to a casserole or baking dish.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.