1. Put the potatoes with their skins on in a pot of abundant water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender and avoid testing them too often by puncturing with a fork, so they don't become water logged. When done, drain them and pull off their skins while hot. Puree them through a food mill and onto a work surface while they are still warm.
2. Add most of the flour to the pureed potatoes and knead into a smooth mixture. Some potatoes absorb less flour than others, so it is best not to add all the flour until you know exactly how much they will take. Stop adding flour when the mixture has become soft and smooth, but still slightly sticky.
3. Dust the work surface lightly with flour. Divide the potato and flour mass into 2 or more parts and shape each of them into a sausage- like roll about 1 inch thick. Slice the rolls into pieces 3/4 inch long. While working with gnocchi, dust your hands and the work surface repeatedly with flour.
4. You must now shape the gnocchi so that they will cook more evenly and hold sauce more successfully. Take a dinner fork with long, lim tines, rounded if possible. Working over a counter, hold the fork more or less parallel to the counter and with the concave side facing you.
With the index finger of your other hand, hold one of the cut pieces against the inside curve of the fork, just below the tips of the prongs. At the same time that you are pressing the piece against the prongs, flip it away from the tips and in the direction of the fork's handle. The motion of the finger is flipping, not dragging. As the piece rolls away from the prongs, let it drop to the counter. If you are doing it correctly, it will have ridges on one side formed by the tines and a depression on the other formed by your finger tip. When gnocchi are shaped in this manner, the middle section is thinner and becomes more tender in cooking, while the ridges become grooves for sauce to cling to.
5. Choose, if possible a broad pan of about 6 quarts' capacity and approximately 12 inches in diameter. The broader the better because it will accommodate more gnocchi at one time. Put in about 4 quarts of water, bring to a boil, and add salt. Before putting in the whole first batch of gnocchi, drop in just 2 to 3. Ten seconds after they have floated to the surface, retrieve them and taste them. If the flavor is too floury, you must add 2 to 3 seconds to the cooking time; if they are nearly dissolved, you must subtract 2 to 3 seconds. Drop in the first ful batch of gnocchi, about 2 dozen. In a short time the will float to the surface. Let them cook the 10 seconds, or more, or less, that you have determined they need, then retrieve them with a colander scoop of a large slotted spoon, and transfer to a warm serving platter. Spread over them some fo the sauce you are using and a light sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Drop more gnocchi in the pot and repeat the whole operation. When all the gnocchi are done, pour the rest of the sauce over them and more rated Parmesan, turn them rapidly with a wooden spoon to coat them well, and serve at once.
NOTE: If the potatoes you work with produce gnocchi dough that dissolves or collapses in cooking, you must add 1 whole egg to the pureed potatoes.
Makes 6 servings.