1/2 lb of potato (2 med)*
1/2 tsp salt
1tbsp parmesan cheese (optional)
1 1/4 cups of flour (you might need an additional 1/4 c. )
*basically any type of potato with a thicker skin, I wouldn't use red, russets would work well, or yukon, for my tests I used purple potatoes that were only purple on the outside (so sad right)
Wash your potatoes, place them in the bottom of a sauce pan and just cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil, remove when a fork pierces them easily (15-20 minutes). Do not peel your potatoes before boiling, you don't want them to absorb any extra water. I imagine you could also bake or microwave them. Just make sure they're cooked through, hard potatoes will make the next part difficult.
While your potatoes are still warm peel them and mash as evenly as possible. I recommend using a potato ricer, you could maybe grate them with a cheese grater or cut them and mash with a fork. Essentially you want them to be small, light, fluffy pieces that when pressed together will feel like mashed potatoes. For those of you without a food scale, you can measure your riced/fluffy potatoes, you want about 1 3/4 cups of loosely packed potato.
How you mix the remaining ingredients is up to you, I like to mix it all on the table, but if counter space is limited you could definitely do it in a bowl. I usually make a nest shape, potato first, flour, then eggs salt and cheese in the middle. I then use a kitchen scraper to cut into it and slowly incorporate all of the dry ingredients into the wet. You could also use a pastry blender, a wooden spoon (in a bowl) or your hands.
The dough should come together quickly, and unlike pasta dough, it can be overworked, so don't knead it for more than a few minutes, if its tacky, add the extra 1/4 cup of flour. It is a relatively wet dough, and won't have the spring and bounce other pasta doughs have.
Cut the ball of dough in half and cover the extra with plastic or a damp cloth to keep it from drying out. Roll the dough into a thick rope, it should be about as thick as your thumb. Roll each finished log in flour then use either your scraper or knife to cut them into little cube shaped pillows. You can either finish shaping them by rolling them on the tines of a fork, on a gnocchi board or you can cook as is.
Above you can see the three different textures I've made, but you can try any food safe object with exaggerated texture too! (think cheese grater, colander, sushi mat.) The technique for each is the same, essentially you use the flat part of your thumb to press and drag the gnocchi away from you. Kind of like swiping on your phone, but with the outer edge of your thumb. Don't be afraid to use a lot of pressure either, worst case scenario you press to hard and rip the piece. You can always crush it up and add it back to the big ball of dough to use later.
Finish shaping your gnocchi, usually once I've done the first half I'll start boiling my water. Place your finished gnocchi on a dishcloth coated with either flour or cornmeal (something so they don't stick to the cloth or each other). I usually put my dishcloth on a cookie sheet so I can move it out of the way later. You can also transfer them to the freezer at this point, and once they're frozen solid put them in a baggie so they don't freeze in a solid lump.
Cooking them takes little to no time, so make sure you have your sauce ready to go. After your water has come to a rolling boil, add a hearty pinch of salt (remember you want your water to be briney) then add your gnocchi. Whats great about having them on a dishcloth is you can pick them all up at once and funnel them into the water. Stir with a wooden spoon (or with a kitchen tool that doesn't have sharp edges) and set a timer for 2 minutes. Generally speaking, your gnocchi's will be done when they start to float. This can vary depending on how big your batch is, or if they were frozen first, once they're mostly floating test one, and let it go a little longer if need be.
I like to spoon my gnocchi directly from the water into a frying pan and mix with the sauce there. Usually I throw in some pasta water and a little butter and let my gnocchi cook in all that for another minute or so. Its important to stir it while its in the frying pan, some sort of chemical magic happens between the starch in the pasta water and the butter; it makes a thicker shiny sauce. And thats that! Plate it. Eat it. Then let me know how it came out!
Top right: Potato gnocchi with butter and cheese
Top Right: Sweet potato gnocchi with pancetta sage and brown butter
Bottom left: Gnocchi bolognese
Bottom Right: Gnocchi alfredo