A few years ago my husband and I were introduced to Chef Alex Staab who at the time was the head chef at Bella Napoli Italian restaurant in Kansas City. This is a neighborhood restaurant that we frequent often as their food is simple, classic, and unpretentious. Comforting just as Italian food should be.
Alex is now in the process of opening his own restaurant, and in the meantime is teaching local cooking classes in Kansas City. The commercial kitchen space Alex uses for these classes is the MKA kitchen which is a professional culinary group that focuses on menu development for a variety of retailers and restaurants across the globe. Amazing amounts of talent cook here and I was thrilled to be even a tiny part of it. If you are interested in taking any KC cooking classes, visit Eventbrite and search for classes under his name.
We went to the gnocchi class on a Friday night with two close friends, and this was by far the best class I’ve been to. It was $50 per person for a 3 hour class which included lots of wine, 4 recipes, dinner, hands-on experience and we met a lot of really nice people. In addition to learning how to make gnocchi – a potato based pasta – we learned recipes for bruschetta, and two sauces (brown butter sage & creamy mushroom & cauliflower) to accompany the gnocchi.
Gnocchi, when prepared correctly, has a light and creamy texture…while still being firm like a pasta. Often I’ve had gnocchi and its heavy and dense – nope nope nope. That is not how gnocchi should be, and if you’ve had it that way, please pay close attention to this SUPER easy recipe so you’ll never eat gnocchi that way again!
- 4 russet potatoes (2 lbs total)
- 2/3 lb of ’00’ flower. This flour is extra fine. Le 5 Stagioni is the type we used.
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- Place potatoes with skin in a pot of cold salted water.
- Bring to a boil and continue until they are fork tender.
- Once tender, remove from water and peel. Be careful, they are warm…but do this while the potatoes are warm.
- Run potatoes through a potato ricer and form into a small pile
- Make a well in the center of the pile and drop in the egg and egg yolk
- Sprinkle flower across entire pile and the well where the eggs are resting
- Begin to fold the potatoes, the flour, and eggs to start to form a dough. Again, this will still be warm so be careful! Add more flour if the dough is too wet, or a bit of water if the dough is too dry. Dough should be smooth and slightly sticky – like play dough, not mashed potatoes.
- Slice a 2 inch piece of dough off of the larger dough ball.
- Place flour on your work surface and roll with both hands into long 1/4 inch ropes, and then slice into 1 inch size pieces
- Place the pieces on a floured cookie sheet until you have completed the entire dough ball
- Once all dough is formed into 1 inch pieces, take them one by one and roll them onto the back of a fork or using a gnocchi board.
- The goal is to indent texture onto the gnocchi so they hold the sauce better. Don’t be hard on yourself here, there is no perfect gnocchi – as long as it has texture…you are good to go.
- Once you have impressed texture to all of the gnocchi, put them into boiling water until they float to the top of the water’s surface.
- Once the gnocchi are done floating to the top, strain them out with a hand strainer.
- At this point you can either put them directly into the sauce you’ve prepared and serve immediately – OR you can cool them to serve later that day, or later in the week. If you choose to not use them immediately, place them on a clean cookie sheet, drizzle liberally with olive oil and when you are ready to cook them – follow step #12.
- Gnocchi can be kept in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days.