A Gnocchi Board – the original Gnocchi Maker
Gnocchi are a true Italian classic and a very worthwhile addition to any cook’s repertoire.
A favourite of many, well-made gnocchi are like small clouds of dough with a velvety, melt-in-the-mouth texture, and which match beautifully with a wide variety of sauces.
Whether used in a simple pasta meal or something a little more elegant and refined, gnocchi are delicious and easy to make – especially with a little practice and a gnocchi board.
Do I really need a gnocchi board?
Gnocchi traditionally have a distinct curl and a series of ridges on the surface that help to trap sauce and which are essential in providing gnocchi with their characteristic ‘mouth feel’. Whilst it is possible to create ridges in your homemade gnocchi using the back of a fork or other implement, this can be very time consuming and difficult to achieve a fine series of ridges. Using a fork also means you don’t achieve a desirable curl in the dough.
The best, and most traditional, way to shape gnocchi is with a gnocchi board (also sometimes called a gnocchi curler). A gnocchi board is a basic wooden paddle with fine ridges etched in the surface. The board provides a surface across which gnocchi can be rolled to create the authentic gnocchi texture.
A gnocchi board is inexpensive, easy to maintain and easy to use. Your gnocchi board can also last you a lifetime - it is a low-tech kitchen tool seen in Italian kitchens that have been passed down from one generation to the next. If you enjoy easting gnocchi then making a small investment in a basic gnocchi board can help ensure a better result.
How to use your Gnocchi Board:
How to use a gnocchi board
First you need to create your gnocchi dough (see a traditional gnocchi recipe further down this page)
Take your gnocchi dough and roll it into lengths of rope as thick as your thumb. Next, take a pair of kitchen scissors or a knife and snip off sections about ½ and inch long. Place the pieces onto a lightly floured board or a piece of baking paper.
Hold your gnocchi board firmly in one hand and take a piece of dough. Use your thumb to roll the dough across the board away from you. The dough will curl up and have ridges imprinted I it. In the same movement, flick the completed gnocchi onto another floured surface, and repeat with the rest of the dough.
This is actually a very easy process – it just sounds difficult. With a bit of practice you can create a large amount of gnocchi in a very short amount of time.
Gnocchi are best cooked fresh, however you can also successfully freeze them for use at a later date. If you are going to be cooking your gnocchi later in the day then make sure they are well dusted in flour to prevent sticking.
Gnocchi are very easy to cook – simply bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add your gnocchi. Try to add one or two at a time and only add as many as the pot can accommodate without them clumping together. Once the gnocchi have started to float on the surface, leave them for 1 ½ minutes more and then remove with a slotted spoon then serve with your favorite sauce and enjoy with friends or family.
A traditional gnocchi recipe
Serves 4 people as a starter or 2 as a main
- 500 grams floury potatoes (having floury potatoes is very important – it is impossible to make good gnocchi with waxy potatoes)
- Flour - (a dedicated high-protein pasta flour but this isn’t essential – standard all purpose flour will suffice)
- 1 Egg -beaten (The addition of egg isn’t essential however it does make the gnocchi easier to work and helps the gnocchi maintain their shape)
- Boil your potatoes until they are well cooked and soft.
- Put the cooked potato through a potato ricer, or use a potato masher. ( A potato ricer is definitely the better option however a masher is fine if you don’t have a ricer).
- Let the potato cool down until it is lukewarm, and then add the beaten egg and mix, gradually sprinkling in flour until you have a soft dough that isn’t sticky. The amount you add will vary depending on the potatoes you have used, how much moisture they have retained etc however for 500g of potatoes it will likely be around 200g of flour.
- Using your hands form the cool dough into ropes and use your gnocchi board as detailed above.
Good gnocchi should be soft, with a velvety texture. If you are unsure as to whether the texture of your gnocchi is right, boil a couple ad see if you like the texture. You can then add additional flour if you need to.