There are movies that we remember for their plot. On the flipside, there are movie scenes that we remember even if we can’t recall what the movie was all about. I remember The Godfather Part III for its attack on the Vatican Bank. But the scene that I remember the most is where Vincenzo Mancini (Andy Garcia) teaches Mary Corleone (Sofia Coppola) how to make gnocchi.
What is gnocchi? It is an Italian dumpling. Gnocchi is small, no bigger than a wine cork, and served with cheese or sauce, or both, just like pasta.
Gnocchi can be made with flour, cornmeal or other starch. Eggs act as binder. The dumplings may be seasoned or unseasoned. Herbs may be added as well.
The first time I made gnocchi, I used a combination of potatoes and flour.
Floury (not waxy) potatoes were boiled, peeled and mashed. While still quite warm, flour and beaten eggs were added.
The mixture was mixed and lightly kneaded until it formed into a soft dough.
To make working with the dough easier, I cut them into four portions.
Working with one portion at a time, the dough was rolled into a log then cut into one-inch pieces.
Because I’m a little OC with uniform shape and size, I took the extra step of rolling the cut dough into little balls.
To make gnocchi catch whatever sauce you intend to toss the dumplings with, you have to create grooves or indentations. There are two ways to do this. If there are more than two, I don’t know about the others. I know only two ways.
The first is to press the forefinger at the center of the dough then lightly rolling it so that it curls around the indentation. Yes, much like how it was done in The Godfather Part III.
The second way is to press the dough between your finger and the tines of a fork, then lightly rolling the dumpling to curl up. This procedure creates more grooves for catching the sauce.
When all the dough had been rolled, cook them in batches.
Boil water in a pot and dump in the gnocchi.
It takes only a few minutes for the gnocchi to cook. When the dumplings float to the surface, that’s the sign that they are done.
Scoop out the gnocchi and, while hot, toss them with whatever sauce you like. Tomato-cream sauce, arrabbiata, with anchovies and caramelized lemons… Treat the dumplings like cooked pasta and you won’t go wrong. Check the pasta recipe archive for inspiration.
How To Make Gnocchi
- 1 kilogram floury potatoes boiled until tender
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs beaten
- mixed dried herbs (basil and oregano are especially good), optional
- While the potatoes are hot, peel and mash.
- Cool the potatoes slightly. While warm, add the flour, beaten eggs and herbs, if using. Mix until everything comes together and forms a dough.
- Cut the dough into four or five equal portions.
- Take one portion and, on a floured working surface, roll out into a log about an inch in diameter. Cut into one-inch pieces.
- Take a piece of dough, press your forefinger at the center to make an indentation then lightly roll the dough away from you.
- Alternatively, lift up a piece of dough and sandwich it between the thumb of one hand and a fork held by the other hand.
- Repeat until all the dough have been rolled.
- Dump the gnocchi in boiling water. When they float to the surface, they are done.
- Toss the gnocchi with you preferred sauce and garnish with cheese.