Following up on this . . . Ah, this time things went much better. The first gnocchi recipe I used called for an egg. Subsequent investigation has revealed one pitfall of that strategy: you have to use more flour. That would explain why my first batch was a bit doughy. The trick, then, is to use as little flour as possible.
This time I boiled some potatoes (I just eyeballed all the ingredient quantities), and then skinned them while they were still warm (actually, while they were still a bit too hot). Then I ran them over the largest grater part of a cheese grater (I don’t have a potato ricer). I added just a bit of ricotta cheese to the same bowl.
In a separate bowl, I mixed together just a bit of flour with some salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I then slowly mixed in the flour mix with the potato shavings and the ricotta, using as little of the flour mix as possible. It’s not like pasta which requires kneading, so as soon as I had a clump of potato dough ready to go (keep adding flour until it no longer sticks to your hands), I started breaking smaller clumps off and rolling them into long, thin, round strips on a flour covered work surface. Then I cut the strips into little pieces. (Most recipes seem to call for the end result to be about 3/4 of an inch long and wide.) For fun, I then squashed each of them between a fork and a spoon to give them ridges, but that’s strictly optional.
At that point you’re basically done. Just throw the finished product into salted boiling water as soon as possible. Remove them about a minute and a half after they start floating on the surface of the water. If you used too little flour or you cook them too long, you won’t have any gnocchi left – they’ll just disintegrate. So be quick about it!
I didn’t bother frying up the gnocchi in butter once they were out of the water, as I did last week. I just threw on some warmed up left-over lamb ragu that I had frozen earlier. This time, it seemed to work: The gnocchi just melted in my mouth. Yummy, yum, yum! Like butta!
(Credit where it’s due: I did this without a recipe book, but of course first I skimmed about a dozen recipies online. Pretty much everything I’ve said here is taken from one or another of them.)