It’s difficult to find a food that Michael doesn’t even like a little; even rarer that he finds a classic Italian or Italian-American dish that he can’t enjoy even a little, like lasagna. Gnocchi, though, was that food, and when I found an article in a winter issue of Fine Cooking that I learned the reason: mass-produced American gnocchi (or even those imported from Italy) cannot even begin to compare to the beauty that is the classic Northern Italian potato delicacy, and I was determined to prove to him that we could recreate the heavenly pillows I ate with a ragu of wild boar. It was one cold, snowy Saturday that I managed to do this, and the results were fabulous:
The key to great gnocchi is using russet potatoes and using a potato ricer, which can run anywhere from $10 at IKEA (our particular model) to $50 for a fancy one you can get at a restaurant supply store. It also requires only as much flour as needed to turn the potato mass into a dough (with the assistance of an egg), and a lot of space to roll out and cut the rods of dumplings.
Two of our best friends came by for dinner prior to a snowy boys’ night out downtown, while L and I drank martinis and watched Mad Men, and we all had the perfect base to do as we pleased, because the gnocchi, served with a homemade sausage ragu, was incredibly satisfying and the culinary equivalent to having a hot water bottle against one’s stomach:
Suffice it to say, there were no leftovers.