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Conquering The Art Of Making Gnocchi

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Conquering the art of gnocchi is like winning your very own cooking competition.  Almost every chef and home cook has a version of the potato dumpling. But perhaps the most famous preparation hails from Italy – the pretty, petite and pasta-like gnocchi.

Gnocchi (pronounced “NYO-kee”) derives from the Italian word mocchio, meaning knot or lump.  But these tender bits of cooked dough are more akin to soft pillows.  They’re made from a basic mixture of baked potato, flour and egg (although in traditional gnocchi recipes, egg is not always used).

It can be difficult to get the feel for the right ratio, texture, and timing, so don’t get discouraged if it takes you more than one try to triumph at making gnocchi – the pros are Italian grandmas who have been making this dish all of their lives.  And even they have a few tricks up their sleeves to ensure that gnocchi are soft in the center, with a surface that’s gently resistant.  First, use a potato ricer, which is a hand-held mill that grates the cooked potato flesh into a light, fine-textured pile.  Second, use potatoes that are hot and dry to get the most volume.  Last and most important, use just the right amount of flour and kneading to achieve a dough that is neither too tender nor too dense.

Russet potatoes are ideal for making gnocchi because they have a high starch content and dry fresh, but the real fun is getting creative with flavors.  You can also experiment with different types or combinations of potatoes, such as nutrient-dense sweet potatoes.  Or try adding chopped herbs or spices to the dough before kneading (basil and nutmeg are popular).  Whatever you try be sure to bring patience and a clean-eating, can-do attitude – I gnocchi you can do it!

Your Step-by -Step Guide to Making Gnocchi:

Step 1 – Prick a 1 pound potato with a fork and bake directly on oven rack at 400°F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until fork-tender.

Step 2 – With a potato ricer, squeeze potato flesh into a large, shallow bowl.  Next, transfer onto a double layer of paper towels.  Let sit for 15 minutes to absorb excess liquid; if needed, replace damp paper towel with a new double layer.

Step 3 – In bowl, sprinkle 1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour.   Return potato to bowl and drizzle 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, over top.  Sprinkle with additional 1/4 cup flour.  If desired, stir in your favorite herbs or spices for extra flavor.

Step 4 – With a rubber spatula, gently fold and press mixture until flour is incorporated and a dough forms, gradually adding up to an additional 1/s cup flour, as needed.

Step 5 – Lightly dust a flat work surface with flour.  Turn dough out onto surface and knead until no longer sticky but not overly stiff, incorporating as little flour as needed.  With a dough scraper or paring knife, divide dough into 6 equal pieces.

Step 6 – Beginning in the center and working outward, roll each piece of dough into a long rope, about the thickness of your thumb.  cut each rope into 1-inch pieces to form gnocchi.

Step 7 – In a large pot of lightly salted water, boil gnocchi, working 10 t0 15 pieces at a time.  When cooked, gnocchi will float to the surface.  Cook for an additional 30 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate.  Repeat with remaining gnocchi.

Step 8 – If desired, add gnocchi to pasta sauce just before serving, or simply serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, fresh ground black pepper and fresh herbs.

For a great and savory gnocchi with mushroom sage sauce, please click HERE

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