My friend, Tom the carpenter, is smitten with his girlfriend and decided to cook her dinner. He settled on homemade gnoochi and watched a couple of YouTube videos on how to make them.
“I’m gonna knock this out of the park, woman,” he told me, and so he began by carving a gnocchi board from a plank of maple.
(Dating a carpenter must be a beautiful thing.)
The special night arrived. He boiled potatoes and after they cooled a little, peeled them and began to mash them in a ricer.
Oh, no! He under-cooked the potatoes and broke the ricer!
In theory, gnoochi is fairly simple to make. The only caveat is you have to work fast or the potatoes will turn gooey (see *below for a remedy to such a disaster). At this stage of the game in particular you do not want any delays.
Tom resorted to grating the potatoes.
He spooned out the bits of under-cooked potatoes and added the rest of the ingredients to form a sort of dough.
(By this time his girlfriend stepped in to help.)
After rolling a section into a rope, he cut off little pieces and gently pressed them down his board to shape them.
So far, pretty good.
While doing all this, a pot of water on his stove came to a boil and he began to drop the finished gnoochi into the water, cooking them for about four minutes or so.
Some came out perfect, just like this…. others, not so much and he put those to the side.
For the final step in this great dinner, he sauteed half the gnoochi in butter with a little chopped sage and garlic until they were slightly brown. The rest he tossed with melted butter. Then he made a sauce of basil, garlic and tomatoes
which he served over sauteed meatballs.
One can only imagine how the night ended after such a meal!
Well done, Tom the Carpenter!
P.S. He made all the boards in the pictures, too. A week later he fixed the ricer by riveting a piece of brass along it’s handle.
* Here’s what you can do when you over-boil gnoochi. You’re going to have gluey indigestible blobs on your hands. First thing to do is beat an egg or two and knead it quickly into the mess to lighten it. At this point, you can add herbs, spices, grated vegetables–basically anything you can think of. Once that’s done, begin to sprinkle in a little flour until the dough begins to bind. Turn the gnoochi mash out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten into a pancake. Heat a little olive oil and butter in a frying pan until hot and carefully slip in the patty. Cook until a crust forms. Now you have yourself one nice potato pancake!
(If you don’t want to eat it right away, wrap the pancake in plastic and think about pairing it with a poached egg for your breakfast the next day.)