(Photo: Ideas in Food)
A good potato gnocchi is a tremendously difficult pasta. IT should be light and fluffy, but too often it comes out heavy, starchy, and tough. The instructions are basically simple: cook potatoes, mash them, knead in flour, shape, then boil. There are some steps that should be taken to get the best results, though.
First, always bake the potatoes, never boil. You want to release the moisture in the potato so you end up using less flour. Preheat the oven to 425 and poke the potatoes a few times with a pairing knife over the entire surface. Around 7-9 times should do it. Bake the potatoes until a fork easily pierces them. Probably about 20-25 minutes.
Peel the potatoes while they are still hot. Use a clean, folded dish towel to pick up each potato and peel them, releasing steam and further drying them.
To mash the potatoes, we recommend using a potato ricer instead of normal mashing utensils. This does a better job of not breaking up the starch cells, and is a gentler way to break the potato down. After you run the potatoes through a ricer, spread them out on a sheet pan to continue to let the steam out.
After you've added the flour and salt to the potatoes, add an egg as well. This will help the dough stay light and keep its shape. When mixing the ingredients together, knead the dough just until it holds its shape.
Shaping the pasta on the back of a fork helps the gnocchi pickup sauce as well.