An obsession with gnocchi - recipes
Washington - It is practically impossible to discuss gnocchi without invoking the p-word. Not “potato,” its historic main ingredient, but the aspirational “pillow.”
We've been to bedroom furniture stoes, so we understand the variations along those lines. Fluffy. With shape-holding density. Heavy enough for combat. Whichever kind you're accustomed to will do just fine, thank you - until the moment you experience the deliciousness of, say, a custom model that costs a grand. The stuff dreams are made of.
Those distinctions are apt for gnocchi, too.
The dumpling derivatives have been made for hundreds of years. Potato gnocchi began as Italian peasant food that required few components, little time and maybe one hand-powered piece of equipment. It has been universally embraced in its boot-shaped native land, north to south, where provincial gastronomic divisions are the norm.
Gnocchi is so celebrated, in fact, that it has its own day - and I don't mean a head-scratcher like National Almond Buttercrunch Day. Trattorias in Rome serve it up on Gnocchi Thursdays, while Argentina and Uruguay have adopted their own monthly Dia de Noquis.
When you grow up eating the gnocchi your family put on the table, it becomes the gold standard. You might tweak a recipe so that it becomes your own, shaping it into an enviable entree. Order it at a number of restaurants, and you start to appreciate the better versions.
Then, when you least expect it, a transcendent forkful sends your kitchen brain into overdrive. It can initiate a quest into whys and wherefores that prompts tuberous hoarding and habitual flour dusting.
That is what happened to me. You might not get the opportunity to have close encounters with gnocchi pros, so I'm sharing my journey.
* It took one taste of Marjorie Meek-Bradley's potato gnocchi, situated in a springtime mix of lamb shank ragu, peas, pickled ramps and Garrotxa cheese. The dish won best in show at the 2013 D.C. Lamb Jam. There was at least one other gnocchi dish in the May competition, and it was mighty good.
But Meek-Bradley's gnocchi were otherwordly: tender, silky and light. Ripple patrons won't let her take them off the menu, so she changes sauces for a little variety. How did a California girl come to possess such a gift? She learned from New York chef Jonathan Benno, now at Lincoln Ristorante on the Upper West Side. Meek-Bradley worked with him when he was chef de cuisine at the three-Michelin star Per Se.
“We've all made the gluey, leaden sinkers,” says Benno. “Potato gnocchi should be light. Sounds like Marjorie's got the touch.”
When asked to describe them, Meek-Bradley says her gnocchi “eats like a pillow.”
Potatoes, egg yolks, kosher salt and all-purpose flour. She emailed succinct instructions. Two attempts later, my interpretation was nowhere close to what she'd served. Unnerving for my line of work. A 15-minute demonstration in the calm of Ripple's nolunch-service kitchen cleared things up considerably.
“I thought to myself, 'Of course it makes sense to show you,' “ she said, conjuring a “duh” as we waited for hot potatoes to finish in the oven. “That's how technique is best explained.”
I was able to feel the potatoes' temperature and that of the dough at key points. I saw how little Meek-Bradley incorporated elements with a plastic bench scraper. I discovered why she does not use a fork to create the grooves that make gnocchi look like mini mountain bike tires. (“You need a denser dough to do that,” she says.)
Each step surrendered its own lesson, enriched by the chef's willingness to answer nitpicky questions. Her main takeaways focused on the potatoes: “Use russets”, a baking potato. “Not Yukon Gold. You need more starch than sugar.”
* “Baking potatoes are too flour-y!” Domenica Marchetti says as gnocchi prep begins in her Alexandria, Virginia, kitchen. The former journalist and occasional Post contributor has written five Italian cookbooks, including “The Glorious Pasta of Italy” (Chronicle, 2011). She graciously agreed to a one-on-one session, even with her AC on the fritz and a nagging feeling that the weather would adversely affect the outcome.
Marchetti boils a mixture of unpeeled red bliss and Yukons. “That's the way my mother taught me,” she says. “I've never made potato gnocchi any other way.” Hers are pleasantly denser than chef Meek-Bradley's, using all-purpose flour (but less of it), a whole egg and grappa, a potent Italian aperitif. There is more moisture on her brow than in the pile of tepid potato squiggles on the counter. Minutes later, her dough has a shaggy, barely-pulled-together look. Semolina flour goes on the baking sheet for holding the formed gnocchi in the freezer.
Wait. Grappa? Another nod to her mother, and her mother's mother. “My mom thinks it adds flavour,” Marchetti responds. “But more importantly, she says it keeps the dough tender with less risk of the gnocchi falling apart.”
In Marchetti's kitchen, the groove-shaping step is not optional. She applies fingertip pressure that creates an indentation on the backside of each gnoccho as it rolls down the fork. After a brief turn in salted boiling water, a single serving's worth of her gnocchi meets up with Parmigiano-Reggiano and butter. I gobble up more than my share while she inspects the rest. Their exteriors are a little softer than she likes.
Ever diligent, Marchetti checks in the next day to say she has remade the recipe with 1/4 cup more flour. “They held their shape much better,” she writes via e-mail. “I really believe the humidity was a factor... which got me to thinking... probably most Italians always associate gnocchi with colder seasons and/or colder climates.”
* Al Dente Ristorante chef Roberto Donna endorses the seasonal vibe approach. “In September, I go to russets [instead of Idaho potatoes] because of the content of their starch,” he says. He is 52 and says his hands have been rolling gnocchi since age 3, when he stood at his nonna's elbow in Torino.
He prefers egg yolks (two) to a whole egg, claiming that the white creates gumminess. Italian “00” flour is the only kind he uses because of its soft properties. Nutmeg, salt and black pepper are added, but not before he has tasted the potatoes on their own. The mention of grappa prompts a raised eyebrow and silent wag of the finger. Then he dumps a measured five ounces of Parm right into the mix for every three potatoes. Brought together in the same bowl that the just-baked potatoes were food-milled into, his dough feels like velvet. It is on a different culinary plane from other doughs I've mooshed my index finger in. His gnocchi emerge from the cooking water glistening, with well-defined edges, eager to absorb a light sauce. In a word, soft.
This is how soft: Sometimes diners send Donna's gnocchi back because they are so soft. He shrugs, and will create a new batch of dough with more flour if they wish.
“Please make them understand,” the chef says with a ciao-ciao wave goodbye. “Gnocchi should melt in your mouth.”
* In between chef visits, I have retested recipes. (See the “Troubleshooting gnocchi” section below.) I have watched Giada De Laurentiis make potato gnocchi on television: lots of hand squishing, lots of flour on the work surface, no mention of technique. I have compared bloggers' renditionsy. I have found that potato flakes are the go-to ingredient of store-bought “fresh” potato gnocchi, which are short on potato-y flavour.
* I arrive at 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church, Va., my last trip to Carbville for now.
“Nutmeg, okay. Whole egg, okay. No black pepper! And no cheese - unless I'm going to make ricotta gnocchi,” says Bertrand Chemel, reacting to an account of what Donna did.
Chemel, 38, is 2941's executive chef. He crafts potato gnocchi that make fellow chefs swear in praise. New York chef-restaurateur Andrew Carmellini was his gnocchi muse.
As soon as the sheet of hot baked Idaho potatoes arrives, each spud on its own raised bed of coarse kosher salt, the light-bulb moments commence. Chemel explains every move in detail, his Auvergnese accent charming enough to make me forget about the “00” flour settling into my black ensemble.
“The potatoes are 60-count [per box]; they should be similar in size and weight. The salt keeps the potatoes from burning on the bottom,” he says. Sure enough, some of my earlier trial potatoes had developed a hardened brown foot. The chef wants them baked until tender but not so long that the skin pulls away from the flesh. “I always cook an extra potato in case I split them open and find that one is bruised inside,” he says.
Where the rest of us might just cut around that bruise, the chef has already reassigned the imperfect potato elsewhere in the kitchen. The notes keep coming: Cut the potatoes lengthwise so steam can escape. Season with salt just after the potatoes have been milled/riced; they should be like “dry snowflakes.” If you use all-purpose flour, sift it first. Add the flour only when the potato has cooled to between 96 and 116 degrees, or else the flour will cook. Nutmeg is dispensed in a two-second Microplane grating. A tablespoon each of melted unsalted butter and arbequin olive oil boost the dough's flavor.
His ropes of dough have shallow fissures and breaks, some of which smooth out under his fingers. A homogenous-looking dough at this point, he says, would result in dough bombs.
Dusting with flour “means dust - a layer you can barely see,” Chemel says. Even then, a pastry brush might be needed to remove excess coating from the un-rolled gnocchi resting under cover on that hardly dusted baking sheet.
The chef keeps some gnocchi in the cooking water longer, on purpose, to show me the difference between perfectly done and overdone. The ones that pass muster are denser than Marjorie Meek-Bradley's and Roberto Donna's yet more refined than Domenica Marchetti's. They are tender and hold their shape, looking quite luxurious nestled minutes later in a rosemary-infused cream sauce with spring peas, pea tendrils and seared curls of Mangalitsa lardo.
Chemel's gnocchi really take to pan-searing in olive oil or butter. But first, a final trick: He applies a slick of olive oil to the baking sheet that acts as holding pad while the saute pan heats up. He then places the baking sheet on top of another baking sheet covered with ice cubes; this two-step safeguard keeps the just-cooked gnocchi from sticking.
A lot to remember, for sure. I remain undaunted by conflicting advice and would make any of the pros' recipes yet again, perhaps depending on the particular dish or accompanying sauce. At the end of the day, I like to rest on more than one kind of pillow.
This might be the next best thing to a personal gnocchi-making lesson: a look at the sticking points most often faced by home cooks. Some problems are fixable, but sometimes the quest for perfection demands a do-over.
* You don't have a food mill or a potato ricer. Try a box grater, or even coarsely mash the potatoes. But be sure to work air into them (with a fork), which will keep the gnocchi dough from being too dense.
* The pile of potato is lumpy. You didn't fully grind, rice or grate the potatoes. Run them through the mill/ricer again, as long as the potatoes are still warm.
* The uncooked gnocchi developed a skin. You didn't cover the initial log of dough or the formed gnocchi with a clean dish towel. A barely perceptible exterior is okay; a skin you can see or feel might make the gnocchi a bit tough.
* Frozen gnocchi stuck together. You didn't freeze them first on a baking sheet, not touching each other, until firm. Just drop the frozen mass of gnocchi into boiling water to bring them back.
IFFY YET EDIBLE
* The potatoes are wet or soggy. Boiled potatoes can take on too much moisture. Some cooks say that boiling them skin-on helps eliminate that problem and enhances the potato flavor. Drain them well, cut them open and allow for thorough drying. But use them while still somewhat warm, if you can. Baked potatoes need to be cut open lengthwise to allow steam to escape.
* The cooked potatoes are cold. They are usable, but warm and dry potatoes yield a fluffier mixture. You can try reheating the potatoes in the oven, but you run the risk of drying them out too much.
* An added vegetable puree has adversely affected the dough. Next time, try a vegetable powder instead.
* The cooking water got cloudy with the first batch. The gnocchi had excess flour on them. Boil a fresh pot of salted water. Use a pastry brush to remove excess flour before the gnocchi go in.
* The cooked gnocchi look a little fuzzy on the outside and have lost some shape definition. Too little flour was used, or they have cooked too long. Don't wait for them all to float to the surface; once four to six of them appear, retrieve all of the gnocchi from the cooking water.
* The gnocchi stayed at the bottom of the pot for several minutes. You might have added too many at once, or the water had not come to a full boil. Also, if you started with frozen homemade gnocchi - which is okay - they will require a longer cooking time.
BEST TO START OVER
* The baked/boiled potatoes never achieved the right consistency. Cooking instructor Giuliano Hazan says they “should neither be too waxy nor too starchy.” Sometimes the moisture/starch content of a potato will be different, and not great for making gnocchi, at the beginning and end of the potato-growing season. Some cooks say old potatoes are better for making gnocchi. Idaho, russet and Yukon Gold are the most popular varieties to use. Bake them until a paring knife goes in easily.
* The dough is sticky. If you have added egg, it might have been over-incorporated. Start over, using a sifter to deliver the flour gradually. Or the weather and humidity might be a factor. Some cooks switch to alternative gnocchi recipes - ricotta instead of potato - in the summer.
* The exterior of the potato flesh is tough, and/or there are gaps between the flesh and potato skins. The potatoes are overbaked and too dried out.
* The initial, fat log of dough is firm, not shaggy, inside. You might have incorporated too much flour in the mix.
* The dough in rope format is smooth-looking and homogenous. The dough is overworked, which results in tougher, denser gnocchi. When you roll the dough into thin ropes again, spread your fingers and start at the centre of the dough portion, rolling and gently working out toward the ends. A few cracks are okay.
Gnocchi: 5 recipes
2941 Potato Gnocchi
4 to 6 servings
Bertrand Chemel, executive chef at 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia., makes the kind of gnocchi that other chefs admire. He's particular about almost every step, as you'll see in the directions. The payoff is on the plate: fluffy, and light enough to serve year-round.
“00” flour is a soft Italian durum wheat flour, available at some grocery stores as well as Italian specialty markets. You'll need a kitchen scale and a food mill or potato ricer.
Serve warm with sauce (see the recipe for Spring Gnocchi With Rosemary Cream and Peas, below), or drain and transfer the just-cooked gnocchi to a baking sheet greased with olive oil while you melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the gnocchi and sear until lightly browned on both sides. Serve hot, with a little grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
4 large Idaho potatoes, 12 to 13 1/2 ounces (340g to 380g) each, free of any dark spots
1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more as needed
2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg
5.3 ounces (a scant 1 1/4 cups or 150g) “00” flour or all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (230degC). Create four thick beds of kosher salt on a rimmed baking sheet.
Rinse and dry the potatoes, then arrange each potato on its own bed of salt; the salt will prevent the potatoes from burning on the bottom. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the potatoes yield slightly to the touch but not so long that the skin separates from the flesh. Discard the roasted salt or reserve for another use.
Place a food mill or potato ricer inside a large mixing bowl. Lightly dust a cutting board and a rimmed baking sheet with flour. (“Lightly” means so that you can barely see the flour, like a coating of dust on a piece of furniture.)
Use a knife to cut each potato in half lengthwise (on the baking sheet) to release steam; this is important to avoid a gummy mixture. After 2 minutes, use a spoon to scoop the warm flesh into a food mill or potato ricer (in batches, as needed). Discard the potato skins. Grind or rice the potatoes over a large bowl so that the potato shreds are fluffy and almost dry to the touch.
Wait for 1 or 2 minutes for the potato flesh to cool a bit more, than add the tablespoon of sea salt, nutmeg and flour; toss gently, being careful not to overmix.
Add the oil, butter and egg. Use your clean hands and a light touch to gently incorporate the ingredients, taking no more than 20 seconds to create a shaggy dough that is soft but not sticky. Transfer to the cutting board.
Use a bench scraper or large knife to divide the dough into four equal sections; cover loosely with a clean dish towel to keep them warm.
Work with one dough portion at a time. Use your fingers and a light touch to roll the dough into a rope that's about 3/4 inch thick, moving from the centre out toward the edges. It should not look smooth. Cut into 1-inch lengths, transferring them to the dusted baking sheet. Repeat to use all the dough. If flour is visible on the surface of the gnocchi, use a dry pastry brush to remove it.
At this point, it's best to cook the gnocchi right away. But they can be refrigerated for several hours.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt. Gently add the gnocchi, which will sink to the bottom. As soon as a few of them bob to the surface, use a Chinese skimmer or strainer to remove all of them.
NUTRITION Per serving (based on 6): 330 calories, 7 g protein, 62 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 1090 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar
Ripple Potato Gnocchi
Ripple's executive chef, Marjorie Meek-Bradley, beat at least 20 other chefs at the recent Lamb Jam in Washington with a light, balanced dish of lamb shank ragu with potato gnocchi, Garrotxa cheese and pickled ramps.
At the restaurant, she's now serving gnocchi with a merguez sausage tomato ragu (see recipe below).
You'll need a food mill or potato ricer.
MAKE AHEAD: The gnocchi can be refrigerated for several hours in advance.
6 russet potatoes, 12 to 14 ounces each (340g to 400g)
2 cups flour, preferably King Arthur all-purpose unbleached, plus more for rolling
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200degC). Arrange the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until tender. While the potatoes are quite hot, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, placing it in a food mill or potato ricer (in batches if necessary). Discard the potato skins.
Lightly flour a work surface and two rimmed baking sheets.
Grind or rice the potatoes directly onto the work surface. Use your hands to form the potatoes into a loose rectangle, creating a well at the centre. Add the egg yolks; sprinkle 1 cup of the flour and all of the salt over the potato rectangle.
Use a bench scraper to cut the flour into the potato; don't worry too much about incorporating the egg yolks. Sprinkle the remaining cup of flour evenly over the mixture, folding it in with the bench scraper and being careful not to overmix or knead. The dough should just come together, slightly sticky, in the shape of a thick log about 4 inches wide, and should not look completely smooth. Let it sit until it is no longer emitting steam and is barely warm.
Use the bench scraper to divide the dough into six equal sections. The dough should no longer be sticky. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough into a log that's about 3/4 inch thick, being careful not to press too hard and starting in the middle, then working out to either end of the log. Cut into inch-long sections, transferring them to the baking sheets. Repeat to use all of the dough. Sprinkle the gnocchi lightly with flour.
At this point, the gnocchi can be cooled completely and refrigerated (uncovered) for several hours, or held just long enough to be cooked for the chef's merguez tomato ragu (see related recipe).
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi, first brushing off any excess flour. Cook just until about a half-dozen of them come to the surface, then use a Chinese skimmer or strainer to remove and drain all of them.
NUTRITION Per serving: 460 calories, 11 g protein, 96 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 340 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar
Potato Gnocchi With Merguez Sausage Tomato Ragu
Makes 6 3/4 cups sauce (6 servings)
MAKE AHEAD: The ragu can be cooked, cooled and refrigerated a day in advance. Reheat over low heat until warmed through.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound (about 450g) lamb merguez sausage, casings removed
2 cups diced yellow onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups canned crushed tomatoes, plus their juices
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for optional garnish
1 cup 1-inch (2.5cm) asparagus pieces (woody ends trimmed)
1 batch fresh, uncooked Ripple Potato Gnocchi (see related recipe)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until it loses its raw look, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula.
If desired, pour off some of the rendered fat.
Stir in the onion and garlic; cook for about 7 minutes, until softened, then stir in the tomatoes and their juices. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low; cook (uncovered) for 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste. If using right away, reduce the heat to the lowest setting to keep warm. Stir in the 1/2 cup of torn basil.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the asparagus and gnocchi. Do not stir; as soon as about half a dozen gnocchi bob to the surface, use a Chinese skimmer to transfer all of the asparagus and gnocchi to a colander.
Immediately divide the asparagus and gnocchi among individual wide, shallow bowls. Top with the ragu and garnish with basil, if desired. Serve warm.
NUTRITION Ingredients are too varied for a meaningful analysis
Spring Gnocchi With Rosemary Cream and Peas
4 to 6 servings
Start with a fresh batch of the potato gnocchi recipe from Bertrand Chemel (see related recipe), and the rest of this dish comes together quickly, offering a nice contrast in textures.
The chef sears thin strips of Mangalitsa lardo to add a savoury richness; it can be ordered online through a few gourmet purveyors. Olli brand lardo (which can be ordered via some Wegmans and Whole Foods Markets, and from www.olli.com) or thinly sliced bacon may be substituted.
From Bertrand Chemel, executive chef at 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church.
MAKE AHEAD: The garlic chips can be made a few days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The rosemary cream can be infused and refrigerated a day in advance.
4 large cloves garlic
2 cups cold whole or low-fat milk
Canola oil, for frying
12 very thin slices from a 2-inch-long strip of lardo
2 cups heavy cream
2 or 3 stems rosemary
2 tablespoons dry white vermouth
1 batch just-cooked 2941 Potato Gnocchi (see related recipe)
1/2 cup blanched green peas (see NOTE)
Fresh pea shoots or small fresh pea leaves, for garnish
Use a small mandoline to cut the garlic into very thin slices. Place them in a small saucepan, then cover with 1 cup of the milk. Place over medium heat, making sure the garlic stays submerged. Once the milk bubbles at the edges, remove it from the heat and strain the garlic through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the milk or saving it for another use.
Return the strained garlic slices to the saucepan; cover with the remaining milk. Place over medium heat; once the milk begins to bubble at the edges, strain the garlic slices again, discarding the milk. (This double-blanching step gets rid of the garlic's pungency.) Use paper towels to dry the garlic slices.
Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a medium saucepan to 320 degrees (160degC) (over medium to medium-high heat).
Add the garlic chips and fry for 10 to 20 seconds, until they are golden and crisped. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the paper-towel-lined plate. Season with a pinch of the salt.
If using the lardo, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the slices and sear for about 10 seconds; the lardo will curl and crisp on the edges. Transfer to a plate.
Combine the cream, rosemary and vermouth in the same large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring to avoid scorching, until the mixture has reduced a bit (by about 1/2 cup). Discard the rosemary.
Add the just-cooked gnocchi and blanched peas to the cream, tossing gently to coat and incorporate. Once those ingredients are just heated through, divide among individual wide, shallow bowls. Sprinkle each portion with garlic chips, pea shoots or leaves and a few slices of the seared lardo, if using. Serve warm.
NOTE: To blanch peas, bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and cook for a minute or two, just until bright green. Use a strainer or Chinese skimmer to transfer to the saucepan.
620 calories, 35 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, 150 mg cholesterol, 1170 mg sodium, 67 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar, 9 g protein.
Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi
Sounds like a tall order: tender, potato-y pillows made with alternative flours. Yet this recipe comes closer than others we've tried, especially once they are sauteed in warm, herbed olive oil and sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The flavour is not like that of potato gnocchi made with wheat flour, but the texture of the sauteed gnocchi is pleasingly soft-firm.
You'll need a potato ricer. Sweet rice flour is available on the Asian aisle of some Safeway stores and at Asian specialty markets.
Adapted by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern, from a recipe in Marco Canora's “Salt to Taste: The Keys to Confident, Delicious Cooking” (Rodale Books, 2009).
MAKE AHEAD: The considerable amount of leftover gluten-free flour mix can be stored in an airtight container at a cool room temperature for several months. Although it's best to cook gnocchi when they are freshly made, they can be refrigerated (uncooked) a few hours in advance.
For the gluten-free flour mix
400 grams (2 1/2 cups) millet flour
300 grams (generous 1 3/4 cups) potato starch
300 grams (generous 1 3/4 cups) sweet rice flour
For the gnocchi
3 russet potatoes, 12 to 14 ounces each
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
For the gluten-free flour mix: Combine the millet flour, potato starch and sweet rice flour in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Seal and shake/massage well to incorporate. Reserve 140 grams (a generous 1 1/3 cups, plus more for sprinkling) and store the rest.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200degC). Prick the potatoes with a fork and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for about an hour or until they are soft, turning them halfway through to avoid scorching.
Cut the hot potatoes in half lengthwise to let the steam escape. After they sit for a few minutes, scoop out the potato flesh, discarding the skins. Transfer the flesh, in batches, to the potato ricer. Process the potatoes, letting the shreds fall into a wide pile on a clean work surface, such as a smooth kitchen countertop or a marble board. Season the potatoes with the salt.
Beat together the egg and egg yolk, then drizzle them over the potatoes. Sprinkle the reserved portion of gluten-free flour mix over the potatoes. Use a bench scraper to blend the mixture, turning the potato mixture over onto itself, chopping in the ingredients and folding them until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball.
Sprinkle extra gluten-free flour mix onto the countertop, then place the dough on the flour. Lightly press down and fold the dough onto itself several times, until the flour is fully incorporated. Sprinkle more gluten-free flour mix onto the surface and repeat the folding two more times, sprinkling flour as needed, until the dough feels pliable and soft yet not tacky. If the dough feels dry because you have added too much of the flour mix, moisten your hands with water and continue to lightly work the dough.
Dust a baking sheet with gluten-free flour mix.
Roll the dough into a stocky log, then cut the log crosswise into 8 equal pieces. Use your fingers (not palms) to roll each section into a 1/2-inch-thick rope, starting at the centre and working out to the edges, pressing together any fissures or breaks as you work. (You might have to knead the portion of dough a bit to coax it into the right shape.) Cut each rope into 1-inch lengths, transferring them to the baking sheet as you go and immediately covering them with a kitchen towel. Repeat to use all of the dough.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt. Use a pastry brush to remove any excess flour from the gnocchi. Working in batches, drop one-third of them into the water and cook, undisturbed, until at least half of them bob to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes.
While the first batch is cooking, combine the oil, thyme and rosemary in a large skillet over low heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the just-cooked gnocchi to the skillet. Toss lightly to coat, making sure no gnocchi are sticking. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi, cooking to create a golden exterior and slightly brown crust on some of the sides.
Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the gnocchi in the skillet. Divide among individual plates and serve right away.
NUTRITION: 340 calories, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 52 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar, 7 g protein. - The Washington Post