Potato gnocchi have all the attributes food needs to freeze well: minimal moisture, small size and no nooks or crannies to trap ice crystals. Minimal moisture means fewer ice crystals form inside the gnocchi; their small size means they freeze fast; and their relative smoothness leaves ice crystals few places to hide. Individually Quick Frozen gnocchi you get in the market were frozen in a blast chiller, which freezes food too fast for ice crystals to form. Food doesn't sear in the presence of water, so you can only saute gnocchi to golden brown if you use the proper technique.
Fill a large pot with water and season it to taste with salt. The water should taste about as salty as you want the gnocchi to taste. About 1 gallon of water per pound of frozen gnocchi ensures the temperature won't drop too low when you add the gnocchi to the water.
Bring the water to a boil. Remove the gnocchi from the freezer and unwrap them.
Place the frozen gnocchi in the water using a spider strainer or a slotted spoon and stir a couple of times. Place only about half a package or 1/4 pound of gnocchi in the water at once so it can return to a boil quickly.
Cook the gnocchi for one minute after the water returns to a boil and the gnocchi float to the top. Remove the gnocchi with the strainer or spoon and let them drain over the pot for a second or two.
Place the gnocchi on a wire rack set atop a baking sheet or plate so they won't sit in water. Allow the water to return to a boil.
Add the rest of the gnocchi and cook for one minute after the water returns to a boil and they float to the top. Remove the gnocchi and place them on the rack with the others.
Melt a tablespoon or two of butter over medium-high heat on the stove in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the gnocchi to the pan in an even layer and season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
Saute the gnocchi until golden brown all over, tossing occasionally, about two minutes. Remove the gnocchi and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Continue sauteeing the gnocchi until you cook the whole batch.
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- Don't thaw gnocchi before cooking it. It loses its shape easily.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.
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