Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi is one of my favorite Italian dishes. Like bruschetta, it's an Italian food word that people have some trouble with. Never fear, the Italian pronunciation police are here.

The "gno" makes a "nyo" sound with a silent "g".

The "cch" is pronounced as a hard "k".

The "i" is an "ee" sound as in "tree".

"nyo kee"

Gnocchi is the plural form of the word. The singular is "gnocco." So you might order a plate of gnocchi and savor each delicious gnocco on that plate. The smaller forms are called gnocchetti.
These thick and soft dumplings can be made from a variety of ingredients. You will most commonly find Potato Gnocchi, but they are also made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, bread crumbs, or ricotta.
After making gnocchi from scratch at home I began to notice the entree listed on the menu at fancy Italian restaurants and it’s SO expensive. This boggles my mind because it is SO inexpensive to make.  It may take a little planning ahead since you need to let the potatoes chill after you bake or boil them...but you can make these in stages and even freeze the gnocchi to eat them whenever you want.

You need ONE special tool, a food mill or ricer. I paid less than $20 for this OXO food mill and it can also be used to make tomato sauce, soup puree or baby food. They usually come with a couple different grater plates. Shown in this picture is the plate with the large holes. After making gnocchi several times, I would recommend using the fine grater plate.

You can either boil or bake the potatoes. I prefer to poke them all over with a knife and then bake them in the oven for an hour.

While still hot, either peel the skins off or you can slice in half and scoop out the soft insides.

The flesh goes into the food mill.

You can discard the skins...OR you can sprinkle them with cheese, and top with sour cream and chives for some yummy potato skins!

A food mill may not be a gadget you use on a regular basis, but when you need it - it's the only tool for the job. It can separate the seeds and skins of a tomato from the juice and flesh. A food mill can also separate the seeds from cooked raspberries and pass the juice and flesh through the grater.

You want to keep the potatoes as light and fluffy as possible, using the food mill traps air in the potatoes giving you a feathery and light consistency. Rice them on a baking sheet. If you wait to rice the potatoes when they are cold they will most likely become starchy and gummy.

Once riced, cover with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge to get absolutely cold before we form into a dough. Light as a cloud gnocchi starts with chilled potatoes that don’t require a lot of flour. If you add eggs to hot potatoes they would scramble.

To make the gnocchi dough, you need eggs, salt, all purpose flour and parmesan. You don't have to add the parmesan, but it's an easy way to infuse some great flavor into these dumplings.

I used my cuisinart food processor to get the hard parmesan into tiny crumbs. Alternatively you could grate the parmesan by hand, but I didn't mind pulling out another appliance that gets the job done quicker.

Beat together the eggs and cheese and pour on top of the cold riced potatoes. Season with salt.

Next, add as little flour as possible. Just enough to keep the dough together.

Start crumbling together with your fingers and kneading the dough until it becomes a homogeneous mixture. If the dough feels sticky, add a little more flour. If you added too much flour, and dough feels too dry, then wet your hands and continue to knead the dough with damp hands. The dough should feel slightly moist, but not tacky.

Work into one large log.

Chop off a handful from the large log.

Roll into a snake.

Continue until you have several snakes formed that are about an inch thick.

Dust with flour so they are not sticky.

Using a knife or a pastry scraper (my preferred tool) cut into half-inch size pieces and put on a flour dusted cookie sheet.

The classic shape for gnocchi is a small dimple or indention on one side with ridges on the other. You can achieve this by applying gentle pressure and rolling each gnocco down the tines of a fork.

Cut off another handful of dough, roll into snakes, and continue to cut the snakes into inch size pieces.

Once you have them all made, you can store in the fridge for up to two days or freeze the gnocchi. I prefer to put all of these on a flour dusted baking sheet and flash freeze them. Don't pile them on top of one another. Spread them out and dust liberally with flour so they don't stick together. Once completely frozen, transfer to a freezer zip top bag. To cook, you can take just what you need straight from the freezer and plop into boiling water.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and drop in the gnocchi. Gnocchi need to be cooked in boiling water until they float and get nice and puffy. Not cooking gnocchi long enough will also result in a heavy gnocchi. Move them directly from the boiling water with a slotted spoon to a pan of sauce.

These light as air gnocchi are super easy to make and it's a great dinner to have ready in the freezer. I combined these with a spicy homemade tomato sauce. You can treat gnocchi just as you would a pasta, and toss them with a cream base sauce, tomato sauce or my favorite, a brown butter sauce with fried sage.

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

5 large Idaho potatoes

2 eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

Prick the potatoes with a fork or knife and bake in a 375 or 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

While the potatoes are still hot, pass them through a food mill and onto a baking sheet. Pay careful attention to keeping the potatoes as light and fluffy as possible. Refrigerate the potatoes on the baking sheet, covered with plastic wrap until cold.

When potatoes are cold, transfer to a clean work surface. Beat together the eggs and cheese and pour onto the potatoes. Season with salt and dust with flour.

Crumble the mixture between your fingers and knead the dough until it is one unified mixture. It will feel slightly moist, but not tacky.

Form the dough into a large log and cut slices off the log and roll them into long snakes about one inch thick. Cut the snakes into half-inch pieces and sprinkle generously with flour so they don't stick together.

Use or freeze the gnocchi immediately. If freezing, place on a floured cookie sheet and flash freeze them. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer zip top bag. When cooking, they can go directly from the freezer into salted boiling water.

Gnocchi need to be cooked in boiling water until they float and get nice and puffy. Transfer from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and put directly in sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments mean a lot to me, I love hearing from you!