Sunday, January 19, 2014

Homemade gnocchi

I've always wanted to try making gnocchi. Those little delightful potato dumplings look so simple. I've seen them made on tv on several occasions, and I decided the other day to try my hand. It wasn't a resounding success, but I feel like I have something to build on.

Making gnocchi:

I consulted a few different recipes, with varied but simple instructions. Start with:

some potatoes
an egg
some flour (between a cup and 2 cups)
some salt and pepper

I was advised to boil, steam or bake the potatoes, usually accompanied by cautions against the other methods. Some recipes counted the potatoes, others weighed them. Quick question for you, internet chefs: How much is 3 potatoes? How big are these potatoes? A little frustrating, until I realized that I couldn't weigh them anyway, so I was going to have to wing it regardless of the recipe.

I used four medium-sized russet potatoes. The flesh is dry and powdery, excellent to use as flour.

I decided to steam the potatoes, as they wouldn't get as wet and therefore would require less flour. After steaming, I let the potatoes cool, then peeled, chopped and mashed them. I should have let them cool completely, but we were hungry.

I also should have mashed them more, but I'm not sure it made a difference. All the recipes called for the cooked and peeled potatoes to be forced through a potato ricer (how's that for a ridiculous tool?) or vegetable mill. Since I have neither (nor do I know what either are), I simply mashed them up. Les voila.

Add the egg, some salt and pepper, and mix. Then start adding the flour.

I started with one cup of flour, but might have ended up using about two. I was warned off using too much flour (making the gnocchi heavier), so I resisted adding very much. I shouldn't have, it turns out.

I rolled out some dough, cut the tube into pieces, and soon discovered that my dough wasn't dense enough to do anything with. I couldn't press it into a fork to make the traditional gnocchi shape, because it was so soft and just flattened. I think it should be more like biscuit dough than bread dough, maybe.

Cooking gnocchi:

Our first batch went into boiling water, and they quickly floated up, so we took them out as directed, but we should have left them in longer. Flour can't cook in a minute, so we were left eating uncooked balls of dough (with a quick tomato sauce).*

Our next batch we left in longer, and the difference was substantial. They probably cooked for about five minutes, much of that already floating. As above, I think my dough was too light and therefore floated too soon and then wasn't cooked.

* Mario Batali's recipe calls for only a minute... hmmm...

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