Tools of the Trade: Potato Ricer

Jake has been obsessively researching his family tree recently, and in a genealogical craze we started to talk about how many of the objects in our kitchen are actually a huge part of the same history. So many of the tools that cover our kitchen walls and fill our draws have been inherited from our parents and grandparents. And with that history comes quality... the phrase: "they don't make 'em like they used to" comes to mind. It's amazing that these tools are still kicking ass in our kitchen some 60 years after they were originally purchased, and that they probably have another 20 in them!

Jake’s grandmother’s potato ricer is probably the most-used heirloom in our collection. It's of the giant-garlic-press variety and has a simple, utilitarian beauty that really sets it apart from the other "objets dart" lining the walls. While a ricer is great for making fluffy mashed potatoes or hash, we love it most for potato gnocchi. (Potatoes play a huge role in the history of Jake's family, which is a story for another post!)

Even more than fresh pasta, there really is nothing quite like homemade gnocchi. The most perfect gnocchi are nothing more or less than light fluffy clouds - and as far as we can tell that texture is only achieved by using a ricer (or, we've also heard, a food mill.) We picked up some Russet potatoes from Race Farm at the Union Square Green Market and, with just a little work, we sat down to the strongest potato-y tasting clouds we'd ever tasted - sweet, earthy, and creamy. And just like fresh pasta, gnocchi is super easy to make... you just have to be willing to get your hands a little dirty.

Potato Gnocchi
Adapted from Mario Batali

+ 3 pounds russet potatoes
+ 2 cups all-purpose flour
+ 1 egg
+ 1 pinch salt
1. Steam the whole potatoes until they are soft and a knife goes through easily (about 1 hour).
2. While still warm, peel potatoes and pass through a food mill or ricer onto a clean cutting board or counter. Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil. 
3. Make a mound with the riced potatoes, with a well in the center. Sprinkle all over with the flour and place the egg and salt in center of well. Using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed and is dry to touch.
5. Roll a baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Lightly roll pieces off of the back of a fork, creating a groove.
6. Prepare an ice bath. Drop the gnocchi, in batches, into the boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and flicking off of fork. 
7. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them and put into the ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Prepare as desired.

Makes enough gnocchi for 6 people.

1 comment:

  1. Good post. I own both a ricer and food mill, and while the ricer is really terrific for potatoes and gnocchi making, the food mill is an extraordinary kitchen tool.