MAKES 13 DOZEN
Chef Anthony Stella says that the secret to making light-tasting potato gnocchi is to refrigerate the dough for several hours before forming them. We made these together for a Ciao Italia segment and when the cameras went down, the crew and I were treated to these with Anthony's Tomato Sauce. We knew they were good when only silence reigned at the dining room table. Try them and see for yourself.
4 pounds (about 5) Idaho baking potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
9 turns of the pepper mill
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top, if desired
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
4 cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Peel the potatoes and wrap them in aluminum foil. Bake the potatoes for 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the potatoes to a food mill fitted with a large disk and set over a large bowl. Pass the potatoes through the food mill. Or use a potato masher to hand-mash the potatoes. Do not use a food processor as this will break down the potato starch and make the potatoes too glue like.
Spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet. Cover them with a towel and chill them for several hours in the refrigerator.
Spread the potatoes out onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the potatoes with the salt, pepper, and grated cheese. Drizzle the potatoes with the egg and butter. Work the ingredients into the potatoes with your hands. Begin adding the flour, a cupful at a time, kneading it into the potatoes with your hands. Continue adding and kneading in enough flour to form a soft but not sticky dough. Adding too much flour will result in heavy-tasting gnocchi.
Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered. Roll each piece out into an 18 x 1/2-inch-thick rope. With a knife cut the rope into 1/2-inch pieces and transfer them to towel lined baking sheets.
To serve 4 to 6, bring 4 to 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in a pasta pot. Add 3 dozen gnocchi and boil them. When the gnocchi bob to the surface, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a platter.
Toss the gnocchi with 2 cups of Anthony Stella's Tomato Sauce and sprinkle the gnocchi with additional grated Pecorino Romano cheese, if desired.
Note: Since this makes about 13 dozen gnocchi, freeze what you are not going to use. To do this, and to prevent the gnocchi from sticking together when frozen, arrange them in single layers on a baking sheet. Cover the sheet loosely with aluminum foil and freeze. When the gnocchi are hard, transfer them to heavy-duty plastic bags. They freeze well for up to 6 months. Add them frozen to boiling water when ready to cook.
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