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Perfect Handmade Gnocchi
Potato Pasta Perfection
Gnocchi is a delicate potato pasta or dumpling. It has a reputation of being extremely difficult to make, but the reputation is, in my opinion, a little exaggerated. So why not make some gnocchi for your next dinner party and blow your friends away.
Gnocchi is extremely versatile, it can be served as a side or a main, and with a variety of sauces. The gnocchi I am going to go into detail about on this lens is with a butter and mushroom sauce served as a main.
I will warn you that you will not make the perfect Gnocchi the first time around, so practice this recipe again and again until you get it right. The trick is to put just the right amount of flour into the mix, too little and the dumpling falls apart, too much and you loose the dumpling factor and end up with just really doughy pasta.
- The balance of flour to potato is extremely difficult to find, but once you have a feel for the texture you are looking for it it will get easier, so practice this recipe until you perfect it.
- Don't put too many gnocchi in the pot at once, you will end up with one mass of potato pasta instead of nice little dumplings.
- Baking the potato vs. boiling reduces the amount of moisture in the potato allowing for less flour which means a tastier gnocchi.
- On a cooking show recently I witnessed an interesting variation on a way to make the perfect sized gnocchi without rolling and cutting. Put the dough in a icing bag cut a hole the diameter you want the gnocchi grab a pair of scissors squeeze the bag and cut the dough as it comes out to the size you want. You can drop the dough directly in the boiling water.
Basic Gnocchi Recipe
This is the basic recipe for gnocchi. Much can be done to tweak the recipe according to what you want your final product to be, adding some fresh herbs to the mix for example. Experiment, but make sure you get the basic recipe down first. Perfect gnocchi is more art than science and requires you get a feel for what works, due to the nature of potatoes the exact recipe can not really be followed.
Most gnocchi recipes will call for you to boil the potatoes, however you will have better luck with the baking method I suggest you will have better moister control which will result in a more delicate potato pasta.
- 6 large baking potatoes
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 Tsp Salt
- with a fork poke many holes in the potatoes and bake as normal until the inside is nice and fluffy and the outside is crispy
- allow the potatoes to cool enough to be handled
- cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides into a large mixing bowl discarding the skins
- add the egg yolk and salt to the potato
- add 1/2 cup of flour to the mix and mix well with your hands
- continue mixing and adding flour until you have a good dough ball. This is the tricky part the dough should not be sticky, but not dry either, if you have made pasta it needs to be about the same consistency as pasta. If you are unsure test the dough using the testing procedure mentioned later in the lens.
- divide the dough into four or five smaller balls and roll each ball into a snake shape about an inch thick.
- cut the dough into 1 inch pieces as shown in the image.
- in a large pot bring some water to boil
- put the cut gnocchi into the boiling water ensuring you don't put so many in that they crush each other, gnocchi is very delicate and if you cook too many at once you will end up with a large ball of cooked dough
- boil until all the gnocchi floats on top of the water, this indicates the gnocchi is cooked.
- strain out the water cover with sauce of your choice and enjoy
Gnocchi Testing Method
Take a small amount of the dough and place it in boiling water if it holds its shape it is ready to roll out and form into gnocchi.
The Process - Gnocchi making in picturesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Butter Mushroom Sauce
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 1 pkg of fresh mushrooms
- 3 -4 cloves of garlic
- 1 large onion
- Slice onions and mushrooms
- in a large skillet melt butter
- add onions and garlic to the skillet and carmelize
- add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook until soft
- toss in gnocchi (or other pasta of choice)
Vegitarian and Vegan Alternatives
Since gnocchi is a potato based dumpling it can easily be made as a vegetarian or even vegan alternative. Leaving out the egg yolk and using small amounts of water as the binder instead makes this vegan.
The sauce would have to alter as well for vegans since the butter contains milk, but you could do a variant using olive oil or make it with a different sauce to make it a true vegan delicacy.
How Do you Prefer your Gnocchi?
© 2012 Jeff Johnston