Since neither of us grew up standing by the apron strings of our very own Italian nonna taking in the nuances of making delicate potato dumplings, we had to teach ourselves. Recipes vary. Some insist on starting off with boiled waxy potatoes, others are emphatic about using baked russets.   Then there is the issue of the egg. Gnocchi made without egg may be more tender but it can be trickier to work with, dissolving away to nothing in the simmering water if the balance of potato to flour isn’t just right.  We’ve landed on this method—using baked russet potatoes and egg—to make these lovely (and tender) little dumplings. We think they’re good enough to pass down to the next generation. 

Ingredients

  • 2 Pound russet potatoes (2–4 potatoes, depending on their size)
  • 1 Large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

Preparation

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 400°. Prick the potatoes in several places with a fork. Put the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake them until soft when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 1 hour.

Step 2

While the potatoes are still hot, cut one potato at a time in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh with a large spoon and push it through a potato ricer (or through a sturdy sieve with the back of a wooden spoon) onto a clean work surface. Spread out the riced potatoes so the heat and moisture evaporate quickly. Let the potatoes cool completely.

Step 3

Gather the potatoes into a shallow mound and make a well in the center. Add the eggs to the well. Sift ¾ cup of the flour over the mound. Using a pastry scraper or a metal spatula, work the flour and egg into the potatoes, scraping and folding the mass together until a rough dough forms. Clean the work surface and lightly dust it with flour. Gently knead the dough, sifting in more flour as you knead if the dough is sticky. Knead just until the dough is soft and smooth and slightly tacky.

Step 4

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Dust the work surface with a little more flour. Gently roll pieces of dough into long cylinders, ½ inch thick. Cut into pillow-shaped pieces that are ¾–½ inch long. To shape gnocchi, hold a fork in one hand, convex side of tines facing up. Put the cut edge of a gnocco on the fork against the tines. Using your index finger, gently roll the dough against the tines. This gives a grooved impression on one side and a small depression on the other side from your finger. Dust the fork and your finger with flour as you work.

Step 5

Bring a large wide pot of water to a gentle simmer. Generously salt the water. Cook the gnocchi in several batches, dropping them into the simmering water and retrieving them with a slotted spoon once they float on the surface for about 10 seconds. Transfer the gnocchi to a warm serving platter as they are done and toss with the melted butter. Serve the gnocchi drizzled with melted butter and grated parmigiano-reggiano.