M’s Gnocchi Recipe

M makes a mean gnocchi. She sent the recipe to some friends recently and I offer it below for your edification:

Gnocchi Directions: (6 adults)

Boil 4 pounds potatoes (I use Russets but Marcela Hazan – my Italian food queen says “boiling potatoes” not “new potatoes” I don’t know what that means so I do russets which she says are too mealy) – with their skins on.  Try not to fork them too much (you don’t want water to get in the potatoes) but when they are done remove and while still hot put through the Potato Ricer.   Once done put them through potato ricer a second time.  While still hot (I don’t know why this is important, but my aunt says it is) add four cups of flour, a little parmesan, salt and one egg and knead till mixed through but don’t handle too much.  If it is sticky add a bit more flour.  Better for it to be on the wetter side because when you are rolling it out you can add more flour – but you can’t make it moister!
Roll out and cut into one inch pieces.  The traditional way to do it is to then roll them down the backside of a fork to make a little divet in the middle and stripes on the back (you could google this part if you like).  I have found if it does add more space for sauce but if you are pressed for time or dealing with kids it isn’t vital.
Sauce we made (cut down ingredients if you don’t want so much!)
4 slices of pancetta (1/2 inch thick) cut into bean size bites
4 heads of garlic (pressed)
4 heads of escarole
2 large jars of tomatoes (get the DOC san marzano whole tomatoes in their own juice)
red pepper (if your kids can handle it)
sautee pancetta until golden, add garlic, sautee for a few minutes, add escarole, sautee for a few minutes, add tomatoes (and red pepper if you like) simmer for 30 min.  You probably won’t need salt because of the pancetta.  If the tomatoes aren’t really vibrant you can add a little red wine vinegar and a touch of sugar (which will give it a little boost).   Whenever making tomato sauce the only real rule is to never cover it (because you are cooking down the tomatoes and you don’t want to add water.)
And the cookbook I love for italian cooking is: Essentials of Classic Italian Cookbook (Marcela Hazan)