After my last post, I got a number of requests for the gnocchi recipe that I used.
Gnocchi is one of those dishes that is highly personal. If you ask five Italian women how they make gnocchi you’ll probably get five different variations of what is essentially a mixture of cooked potato and flour.
The recipe for gnocchi that I like to use follows a roughly two-to-one ration: for every two potatoes you use roughly one cup of flour.
Now here’s where I’m going to irritate everyone. It’s very difficult to give an exact recipe because there are so many variables. How much flour you need, for example, will depend on what type of potato you use, how moist the potato is and even what the weather is like (on a cold, dry day – you’ll probably use less flour).
Having said that, the two-to-one ration pretty much works.
Most of the time I boil the potatoes and then once cool, I pass them through a ricer. I will mix in a bit of salt for flavour and then add the flour. I always add less flour to begin with. If I see that the potato mixture needs more flour to hold together, I’ll add it in a bit at a time. Too much flour will make your gnocchi hard and unpalatable. Too little flour and your gnocchi will fall apart in the water.
This is one of those dishes where you will benefit most by lots of practice. The more you make gnocchi, the better you will get at judging the consistency of your gnocchi dough and how much flour your potatoes need.
In terms of the potatoes that you use, the women in my family have always said that older potatoes are best for gnocchi. To be honest I’ve made gnocchi with all kinds of potatoes and they all seem to work fine. Having said that, I prefer to use what are often referred to as “baking potatoes”. Those are the white-fleshed potatoes with a brown skin. I have also often used Yukon Gold potatoes and they also work very well.
Occasionally, rather than boiling the potatoes I have baked them. Some people believe that by baking the potatoes, you reduce the amount of moisture the potato draws in and therefore reduce the amount of flour required to form the gnocchi. Less flour means a lighter and fluffier dough.
Again, in my experience I haven’t noticed a huge difference so I say boiling the potatoes is just fine.
So here we go, the not-so-exact recipe for gnocchi:
4 potatoes (Yukon Gold our baking potatoes)
2 cups, all-purpose flour (start off with less flour)
1 tsp. salt
Boil the potatoes with the skins on. Once cooked, allow the potatoes to cool before peeling and passing through a ricer.
Mound the potatoes on a clean counter, dusted with flour.
Make a well in the centre of the potatoes, and add in 1-1/2 cups of flour and the salt. Begin mixing the flour into the riced potatoes until you have a cohesive ball.
If the mixture is too wet and doesn’t come together, add in more flour, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue mixing and gathering the mixture together until you have a ball that is firm, but also soft to the touch (if you press the ball with your finger it will leave an indentation).
Divide the dough into 4 smaller balls and roll each one into a longer rope, about an inch thick. You will need to flour the counter frequently as you do this.
Cut each rope into small pillows of dough (about an inch in size).
You can cook the gnocchi as they are or you can run them down the back of a fork (along the tines) or you can run them along a gnocchi board (this is a grooved paddle instrument for shaping gnocchi).
To cook the gnocchi, drop them into a large pot of salted, boiling water. Once the gnocchi rise to the top, let them boil for 2 minutes and then remove them.
Dress them immediately with sauce and serve.
If you want to freeze the gnocchi (before cooking them), arrange them individually on a baking sheet and slide them into the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, drop them into a freezer bag. Remove all the air and keep the gnocchi in the freezer for up to a month.