Gnocchi, A Thick Pillowy Dumpling Made From Fluffy Potatoes And Fine Flour
In case you haven’t been following, I’ve been going through a “make things from scratch” phase and I’m loving it!
Making food from scratch is so rewarding and always so much more tastier, don’t you think?
And look what I’ve made this time, gnocchi! It’s fiddly to make compared to pasta, but the, pillowy, soft potato bites are sooooo worth it.
I find store bought gnocchi, although handy, can be a little dense. Whereas homemade gnocchi, you have a bit more control over texture and taste.
What ingredients can you use?
Gnocchi is typically made with potatoes & flour, egg & cheese was later introduced to add more flavour, but you’ll find they taste just as good without them and like I always say “simple is best”.
Gnocchi is one of those versatile foods that can be made with all sorts of vegetables from potatoes, beetroot, pumpkin to spinach. Not to mention, different types of flour too, so our gluten free friends can enjoy them too.
So versatile, pretty much any edible ingredient and flavours can be incorporated to gnocchi. Hmmm chocolate…🤔.
You just got to get the consistency and texture right.
Not enough flour and you can end up with a soft unworkable dough that just won’t hold.
Too much flour and you end up with a dense, chewy gnocchi and you loose the flavour and fluffy texture of the potatoes.
So here’s some tips to help you avoid the above and make yourself some delicious soft delicate gnocchi.
You Gotta Get The Right Potato
If making with potato, you need to pick a starchy potato to give it it’s fluffy, light texture. Try to pick the kinds that are good for mashing, yukon gold, dutch gold, russet. Russet is readily available and with its high starch content and low moisture. It’s a great choice for gnocchi as they cook up soft and fluffy.
Boiling, Baking, Microwaving
The key to a good gnocchi is keeping the water and moisture level low.
Boiling, baking, microwaving, all works a treat in cooking the potatoes but steps need to be taken to insure water absorption in your potato is kept low.
Boil the potato whole and unpeeled to stop it from absorbing water, making dough too soft and requiring more flour.
Once boiled, remove the skin as soon as possible to avoid the hot steam being absorbed into the potato.
You can also place boiled & drained potatoes in hot pan and give it a little shake to dry up any excess water before peeling.
Baking takes longer but guarantees a nice dry potato as no water comes in contact with them.
Pierce some holes in the potato and let it bake in the oven till soften, roughly 1 hr depending on qty and size of the potatoes.
Bake potatoes on a bed of coarse salt to help draw out excess moisture as well as stopping them from burning on the bottom.
Now this is the quickest and easiest way to cook the potatoes. The same tips as boiling applies here. Just be mindful, as the potato cooks, it can generates a lot of moisture, therefore you might want to give it a quick toss in the pan to dry off any excess water.
When It Comes To Mashing
Now that you got your cooked potatos, it’s time to mash them. You want your mashed potatoes to be really fine, this is what gives you that delicate texture.
Sadly using a masher will not give you that texture. A potato ricer, drum sieve or any large sieve and a lot of elbow grease will give you that fine, delicate smooth texture.
You can really taste the difference in texture.
Use Italian 00 flour, which is milled very fine from soft wheat. Plain flour also works fine, but the lighter your ingredients, the better chance you will have at achieving that pillowy, melt in your mouth morsel of gnocchi.
And always remember to sift the flour!
Now this is a handy tip. In my past attempt at making gnocchi, I always find the dough is never workable and I always need to play around with it to get it to the right consistency and even then it taste not quite right.
To work out the right ratio for consistency, weigh the potatoes after you’ve cooked and mashed them as the weight (qty) of your ingredient would have changed after the cooking.
You will need 1 cup of flour for every 453 grams (roughly 2 cups) of potato.
You only want enough flour to hold the dough together.
I know, you’re proabably wondering what humidity got to do with pasta making?
Well humidity will affects the moisture levels in the potatoes as well as the flour, so you’ll find, as it get’s more humid, your dough will absorb moister, making it sticky and stretchy, and really hard to work with. And you really don’t want to add more flour to the dough, unbalancing your potato to flour ratio. So you might want to consider gnocchi making on a not so hot and humid day.
When I’m time poor and is more interested in a quick easy meal than taste, then I’ll use a food processor to mix it all in and form a dough. But that’s a big NO NO… lol
Mixing in a food processor, creates gluten in the flour resulting in a chewier gnocchi.
So mix it by hand if you can. Come on you’ve made it this far, go for gold!
Use a bench scraper to incorporate the potatoes and the flour. Gently mix the ingredients together till it forms a dough.
kneading the dough is too harsh and will form gluten, making your gnocchi tough.
I recommend, making a couple of gnocchi and cook them in some boiling water first, to see if they hold before making the whole batch. This way you still got room to add more flour, before ending up with a batch of beautiful gnocchi that turns to slop once it touches the water…
Once you got the consistency of the dough right, the rest is pretty easy. Just cut them into small pieces, roll them out into a long sausages and cut them into smaller pieces.
You can cook them as is or use a fork or proper gnocchi paddle to give them those lovely grooves.
Once complete, dust them lightly so they don’t stick together.
Cook them in a large pot of boiling water with a little salt.
Cook small batches of gnocchi at a time. This insure even cooking and avoid sticking.
Don’t over cook the gnocchi. Once they float, they are ready.
Cooking the gnocchi for too long, they can absorb too much water, making them dense and chewy, Yuk.
Last Bit Of Tips
- Put your gnocchi in the freezer to firm up before cooking, for easier handling when transferring.
- Gnocchi is best cooked when you are ready to serve. Good gnocchi is delicate and can get squashed and stick together if left too long in the colander after draining. So toss those fresh made gnocchi in your sauce immediately and eat up.
- And my favourite part in any cooking, gnocchi can be frozen. Simply line them on baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Once firm, you can remove and put them in a airtight container or bag for re freezing. This will stop them from sticking together.
- To cook simply put them in hot water. No thawing or defrosting required! Easy!
Get Your Apron On And Make Some Gnocchi
I know readying all this, you might think it’s all too overwhelming. But if you follow these few simple tips, making gnocchi from scratch will feel like childs play.
I’ve even got a simple potato gnocchi recipe that’s a great starter to get you making some delicious fluffy gnocchi so check the link below!