True Artisanship

Handmade Gnocchi for Easter

A string of mistakes, especially using too much flour, yielded gnocchi that were pretty hard–far from the quality of gnocchi I made in the past. But the process was well worth it. Spending time with Chiara and teaching her a little bit of what it is like to be Italian was priceless.

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I hadn’t made homemade gnocchi in at least seven years. I remember slaving away for hours last time and the fact that I had made my famous Gnocchi ai Quattro Formaggi that time meant that nobody was that keen to have something just as yummy but, unfortunately, equally fattening (we are all older and exercising less, unfortunately, so this time we stuck to a nice homemade red sauce). What got me to decide to try making them again was the fact that Trader Joe’s recently started selling a pack of gnocchi imported from Italy. I tried it, and it was good. It was exactly like the gnocchi we buy at the supermarket in Italy, which means they are a bit hard and packed ¬†with preservatives. The thought of feeding my family preservatives is what pushed me over the edge. I want to avoid that whenever I can.

Chiara insisted to help me peel the hot potatoes. She did a great job!
Chiara turned out to be an awesome potato peeler. I’ll keep that in mind.

Since I remembered how long it took last time, I got an early start. The potatoes where cooked before noon, Chiara helped me peel them while hot (I did not ask her, she just insisted), then I mushed them really well. So by noon I had already made a few mistakes: too many potatoes (also I selected them without thinking about getting the driest kind) and mushing them well. After I was done I read that you don’t want to do that at all. Some even suggest baking the potatoes for a while to dry them up.

I then started kneading this massive ball and I kept adding flour, then I used up the recommended amount of flour, then I kept adding flour because I was trying to get a dough. That was another big mistake. Most advice I found later says to start cutting the gnocchi as quickly as possible.

Chiara developing her gnocchi-rolling technique
Chiara developing her gnocchi-rolling technique

Chiara, again, came to help and she helped me roll the dough so that I could cut it up. She also tried to shape each gnocco against the cheese grater, but we still have to work on that technique.

The gnocchi turned out hard. Much harder than last time, when they wear soft and delicious. They were still good, we had them with a homemade red sauce that turned out really well, but they were chewy and filled us up quickly. Ten gnocchi were enough to make up a filling portion.

The end result. Good, but not what I had envisioned.
The end result. Good, but not as fluffy as I had envisioned.

This was a reminder, that handmade products require practice and passion. I was out of practice, but I resolve to trying again! What I liked most about the experience was that I got to spend time with Chiara and that she was thoroughly entertained. She did not ask to watch TV at all!

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