I love gnocchi. I really love it! But finding good gnocchi is harder than it should be. It’s hit-and-miss in restaurants and buying frozen packs or vacuum packed long life stuff from supermarkets has never worked out for me. Good gnocchi seems elusive. So I thought I would try and make it myself. And being the science nerd I am, I researched it first.
So here are the secrets to making GREAT gnocchi, easily so it works every time.
- Cooked potatoes need to be dry, not waterlogged. Why? Gnocchi has flour added to it. Flour contains the proteins that connect and produce gluten. Gluten forms in the presence of mechanical action and water. Gluten makes food elastic (ie rubbery). Stretch and elasticity are great for pizza bases, but not what you want in gnocchi. Less water (ie dry potato) means less chance for gluten to form.
- Don’t want to overwork your gnocchi. As mentioned in point 1 – mechanical action (such as kneading and rolling) develops gluten. Less moving means less gluten, which results in less chewiness.
- 1 kg potatoes (Desiree is recommended) – medium sized, all similar in size and shape
- 1 ¼ cups of plain flour (pick regular stuff, not “strong” flour or bread flour as this contains more gluten)
- 1 egg
Potato ricer – in a pinch you can use a sieve, but it will take a bit of extra effort and time. Potato ricers are the best and can be used for lots of things (not just kick-ass gnocchi).
To make dough
- Fill large pot with water and place on stove.
- Add whole, unpeeled potatoes while water is cold.
- Boil potatoes until they are cooked. Spearing potatoes with a sharp knife allows you to determine if they are cooked. The knife should cut easily into the potato.
- Once cooked, remove potatoes from water and try and peel while still hot. This allows steam to leave the potatoes, which makes them dryer.
- Alternatively, put the whole potatoes, with skin on, directly into the ricer. This pushes out the potato and leaves the skin in a ricer.
- Put potatoes through ricer or sieve onto a tray (again allowing more water to leave the potato).
- Allow to cool slightly.
- Place mashed potato in bowl and add egg. Mix in with a fork.
- Add flour and salt and combine. Remember you want it well combined, but the more you mix it the more gluten formation (and the chewier your gnocchi – you want pillows…not bullets).
To make gnocchi
- Split dough into quarters.
- Roll one quarter of the dough into a long sausage around 1.5cm thick.
- Using a sharp knife, cut sausage into 1cm pieces.
- Place on non-stick tray and press with fork (to get the stripes gnocchi often has which helps the sauce to stick to the pasta).
- Repeat until all dough is in small dumplings.
- Boil pot of water.
- Add gnocchi in batches.
- When it rises to the surface it is cooked. Scoop out immediately with slotted spoon.
- Add to sauce and serve.
For extra flavour
Pan fry gnocchi in small batches with a small amount butter. This adds an extra flavour (and colour), and if your pan is hot enough a slight texture to the outside.
Need some inspiration? Recipe here soon.