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If I had a day in my childhood I could relive, it would have to be sitting in my aunt’s basement watching my grandmother make gnocchi. I loved sitting at the big kitchen table with her, watching her press the dough in her palm while telling me stories of her childhood in Turin, Italy. She was always very pulled together, dressed in a good skirt and heels. For a woman who cooked as much as she did, she had a great figure. Nonnie’s gnocchi are my madeleines—they take me right back to that kitchen table every time.
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Scrub the potatoes well and pierce in several places with the tip of a knife. Bake on a baking sheet until cooked through, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool.
2. Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and pass the flesh through a ricer or the finest holes of a food mill. Place 11⁄2 cups of the flour on a clean work surface and put the potatoes in the middle. Season with the salt. Knead the potatoes and flour together until it’s a smooth ball of dough that’s slightly sticky. If the dough is too sticky, add more of the remaining 1⁄2 cup flour gradually to achieve the smooth consistency.
3. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and cover 3 of them with a dampened kitchen towel. Roll the uncovered piece of dough into a 1″-thick rope. Cut into 3⁄4″ pieces. Turn a fork over and hold at a 45-degree angle, with the tines touching the work surface. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it down the fork tines, pressing with your thumb to make ridges on one side. Place on a large baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add half the gnocchi and cook until they bob to the surface of the water. Transfer to a shallow bowl and cook the remaining gnocchi. Serve with the Meat Ragu.
2 pounds russet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting surfaces
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups Meat Ragu
Hands on time
2 Hours, 10 Minutes (includes cooling time)