Ah, the humble potato—that earthy lump of satisfaction and possibility. About once a year, I study the potatoes waiting patiently in the bottom of the vegetable drawer, and I tell myself it’s Gnocchi Day. The kitchen becomes a laboratory of boiling pots and floured surfaces. And about an hour later, if I’m working at a good clip, there’re warm little dumplings steaming in our bowls, covered with sauces of tomato or fontina or gorgonzola, or a simple grating of parmigiano over scant butter and sage.
1. Take a kilogram of potatoes (2.2 pounds) and 2. boil them whole. When they are tender, take them out of the water. When cool enough to touch, peel and 3. place the meat of the potatoes in a ricer. (I suppose you could just as well use a masher or a fork.) 4. Process the potatoes until you have a heap of soft, milled fluff. 5. Add 300 grams of flour (10.5 ounces), an egg, and scant salt. 6. Working on a well floured surface, knead with your hands, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking, until you have a soft, relatively elastic ball. 7. Roll the ball into a number of finger-width cylinders, then 8. cut into tiny pillows. (You can then take each of these gnocchi and roll them between your thumb and a fork to make a more ornately finished product, but the stomachs in this house have no patience for such elaboration.)
Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling, salted water until they float to the surface or otherwise seem ready. Dress them according to your tastes. Lovely with a simple sausage sauce or the aforementioned classics (tomato, fontina, gorgonzola). But as I said, my favorite version of this peasant meal is with simple butter melted with fresh sage and a shaving of parmigiano. As I write this, I imagine it with a lovely glass of red wine and spicy rucola salad. But that’s just me.