You know how making gnocchi from scratch is technically very simple, and yet so many things can go wrong that it often ends badly and leaves the cook very frustrated? Well, count on Cook’s Illustrated to make the process foolproof! I made their gnocchi recipe and loved it. The keys are to bake the potatoes instead of boiling them and peel the immediately, thus removing extra moisture; to rice the potatoes instead of mashing them, thereby preventing lumps; and to weigh the amount of riced potatoes used and then add the appropriate amount of flour so that there’s no guesswork. It is not a fast process, to be sure, but it was actually quite simple. And the resulting gnocchi were so good! Flavorful and fluffy and just perfect. I still need to work on my shaping technique, so I’ll look up a video for that next time.
I made this with a brown butter sauce because I had one last stick of lactose-free butter in the freezer and this seemed like the perfect use for it (since it’s not going to work with margarine). You could also make a tomato sauce for them and/or top them with parmesan.
Note that this makes a relatively small amount of gnocchi, perhaps enough for 2-3 adult servings (which we made into a meal for 2 adults and 2 children). I made them during the day and left them in the fridge until I was ready to boil them at dinner time.
For the gnocchi
2 lbs. russet potatoes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 oz. all-purpose flour, plus more for the counter
1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. salt
For the brown butter sauce
4 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp. minced fresh sage
1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt (omit this if your butter is salted)
For the gnocchi
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 °F. Using a paring knife, poke each potato 8 times over the entire surface. Microwave the potatoes until slightly softened at the ends, about 10 minutes, flipping the potatoes halfway through cooking. Transfer the potatoes directly to the oven rack and bake until a skewer glides easily through flesh and the potatoes yield to gentle pressure, 18 to 20 minutes.
Holding each potato with a potholder or kitchen towel (silicone oven mitts are great here), peel with a paring knife (I used a vegetable peeler, because I never mastered the art of peeling with a paring knife). Process the potatoes through a ricer or food mill onto a rimmed baking sheet. Gently spread the potatoes into an even layer and let cool for 5 minutes.
Transfer 16 ounces of warm potatoes to a bowl (the rest can be used for something else). Using a fork, gently stir in the egg until just combined. Sprinkle the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt over the potato mixture. Using a fork, gently combine until no pockets of dry flour remain. Press the mixture into a rough ball, transfer to a lightly floured counter, and gently knead until smooth but slightly sticky, about 1 minute, lightly dusting the counter with flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and dust liberally with flour. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Lightly dust the counter with flour. Gently roll a piece of dough into a ½-inch-thick rope, dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Cut the rope into ¾-inch lengths. Holding a fork with tines facing down in one hand, press each dough piece cut side down against the tines with the thumb of the other hand to create an indentation. Roll the dough down the tines to form ridges on the sides. If the dough sticks, dust thumb or fork with flour. Transfer the formed gnocchi to sheets and repeat with remaining dough.
For the sauce
Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until butter is browned and releases a nutty aroma, about 1 ½ minutes. Off heat, add shallot and sage, stirring until shallot is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and salt; cover to keep warm.
Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt. Using parchment paper as a sling, gently lower gnocchi from 1 sheet into water and cook until firm and just cooked through, about 90 seconds (gnocchi should float to surface after about 1 minute). Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked gnocchi to skillet with sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. Gently toss gnocchi with sauce and serve.