The Great American Recipe is a fun new cooking competition series that gives talented home cooks from different regions of the country the opportunity to showcase their beloved signature dishes. 10 talented home cooks showcase their favorite family dishes, share heartfelt stories and compete to win the national search for the “Great American Recipe.”
Host Alejandra Ramos tasks the home chefs with creating two dishes for each show’s two rounds, which are then judged on taste, presentation, execution and how it highlights the episode's theme. The judges—Leah Cohen, Tiffany Derry and Graham Elliot—have their work set out for them, having to eliminate one person each episode.
The dishes presented offer a look into each contestant's culture, as many of the recipes have been handed down from family members contributing to the melting pot we call America. In season 1, episode 2, Dan Rinaldi, a firefighter from Providence, Rhode Island, shares his recipe for Gnocchi and Buffalo Mozzarella, but what sets this recipe apart from others is the fact that Dan makes homemade gnocchi.
Although making gnocchi from scratch is not nearly as easy as buying it, I can attest it's completely worth the time and effort. For me, making gnocchi (or any pasta for that matter) brings back memories of the many Sundays I spent in the kitchen with my mom and grandma. I would not give up these moments for store-bought gnocchi.
Related: 21 Must-Try Gnocchi Recipes
1. The first and most important step to making gnocchi is to choose the right type of potato. You need a potato that's starchy, with a floury texture and minimum water content, like a Russet or Idaho potato.
2. The potatoes should be boiled in their potato skins until tender. They should be peeled and riced while they are still hot.
3. Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour, using only enough flour to bring the dough together. It should be firm but slightly sticky.
4. Place egg(s) in center of well and using your hands, stir into flour and potatoes, just like making normal pasta.
Riced Potato with Egg
5. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Don’t overwork the dough or you will get dense and heavy gnocchi.
Mixing Gnocchi Dough
6. Roll the dough into long ropes and cut into 1-inch long pieces.
7. Create ridges in the gnocchi either with a ridger or the back of a fork to help the sauce evenly coat the dumplings.
8. Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot and drop them into boiling water. Cook until they float (about 1 minute).
9. As gnocchi float to the top of boiling water, remove them and serve with sauce of choice.
Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce
Like Dan's recipe below suggests, gnocchi can be served in a simple tomato sauce with melting mozzarella. They can also be served with spinach and beans, as part of a delicious chicken soup or in this cheesy casserole.
Wine is always my first suggestion when serving gnocchi. Depending on the sauce, you can pair it with a nice fresh, crisp white like La Pettegola Vermentino, or a red berry rosé like Sonoma-Cutrer Rosé.
The Great American Recipe airs Fridays at 9pm ET on PBS.