Making your own gnocchi is really quite simple once you take the plunge. The most difficult bit is trying to figure out which recipe to follow, and what techniques to use. Here is my way of creating delicious gnocchi and a few tips, to add to the various other suggestions provided by other food bloggers, cooks and chefs.
- Always use an all purpose or floury potato, such as desiree, king edward, sebago or dutch cream – preferably all of a similar size.
- Don’t be tempted to use a food processor – it will turn your lovely potatoes into a sticky goo.
- Always start with less flour. Different varieties of potatoes will require more or less flour, so it best to start with around 80% and add more as needed.
- Regarding eggs: purists will argue that no eggs are necessary and make the dough too firm. If you lack confidence, feel free to add a beaten egg. I would experiment with both methods.
- Put the extra time into shaping your gnocchi in the traditional style, as this will create ridges and grooves for the sauce to cling to.
- Sauce and accompaniments: make sure whatever sauce you are going to serve your gnocchi with is ready before you start cooking the gnocchi. I am particularly partial to using a simple napoletana sauce (with bonus pancetta if you are that way inclined), or a creamy pesto sauce.
- If you made too much gnocchi, it is possible to freeze some for later. Simply place your rolled gnocchi on a baking tray – taking care to make sure they are well floured and not touching. Place in your freezer for 1-2 hours, before transferring into snap lock bags. When you need them, defrost by placing the individual gnocchi on a tray – taking care to make sure they are not touching. Re-flour them and away you go!
+ 1 kilogram of potato (see tips above)
+ around 1 cup of plain flour, plus extra for the work surface
+ touch of salt
+ 1 egg, lightly beaten in a separate bowl (optional)
Place your potatoes, with their skins on, in a large pot of water and bring to the boil. Boil until soft – avoid testing the potatoes too often as puncturing them will make them waterlogged.
Drain once cooked through. If you are using a potato ricer you can run your potatoes through (skins and all) while still hot. If you do not have a potato ricer, remove the skins by chopping each potato in half and scooping out the centre. Mash thoroughly while hot.
Transfer your mashed potato into a large bowl, and add a touch of salt. Add most of your cup of flour to the potatoes. If you are going to use an egg, now is the time to add it. Knead until it starts to come together to form a smooth mixture, being careful to not overwork the dough. Stop adding flour to the mixture when it has become soft and smooth, but is still slightly sticky.
Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Take a portion of dough and roll into a long thin log about 2.5 centimetres thick. Divide your log into approximately 2 centimetre lengths. Repeat until you have portioned up all your dough.
Now is the time to shape your gnocchi. You can use either a floured gnocchi board or a fork coated in flour. It is hard to describe the required action, so here is a most useful video. Place your rolled gnocchi on a surface dusted with flour.
When you are ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a big pot of lightly salted water to the boil. To test how long to cook them for, drop in just two or three gnocchi. Ten seconds after they have floated to the surface, use a slotted spoon to remove them before tasting. If they are too floury, add 2-3 seconds to the cooking time. If they are too sloppy and have almost dissolved, subtract 2-3 seconds from the cooking time.
Cook 2-3 dozen gnocchi at a time. When each batch is ready, drain and set aside in a 100°C oven – either in a platter with a sliver of warmed butter, or with a bit of sauce you are planning to serve it in.
This is a hybrid recipe. Original recipes come from a variety of sources, including: a kitchen cat, my good friend Zoë and the Family Archives.