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I am so excited to share this post with you. When I first started blogging, I was trying to find the perfect time to share this with you. I LOVE making gnocchi. There is nothing that comes close to it. I love making bread and pastas but I L.O.V.E. gnocchi. Let me tell you a few reasons why before I go on to give you my tips on how to make the perfect gnocchi at home; you seriously will never buy that stuff from the store again!
To me, gnocchi is the perfect marriage of the two ideas of dumplings and pasta. Depending on what region of Italy largely determines the type of gnocchi you get, as well. I am particularly fond of the potato variety because of the resemblance of dumplings.
Making gnocchi is a skill that takes time to master. It’s done completely by hand which give you the optimum advantage of knowing when your dough is too wet or too dry. It takes gentle hands to not over work the flour and let’s face it, these little pillows are just too dang cute not to love! Those ridges hold in all kinds of goodies!
When gnocchi is made correctly, it is probably one of the most sublime textures that your tongue will ever discover. The little pillows just melt in your mouth and it incorporates into the accompanying sauce so well!
I must warn you though, these little babies are temperamental and you need to treat them carefully or you will wind up with a mouthful of Chiclets… It’s happened to me once (tasting someone else’s) and it was a traumatizing experience.
Here are a few pointers to remember about making successful gnocchi:
Pick the right potato.
I kind of went over the importance of picking the right potato for the right job in this post, but it is worth mentioning again. Different potatoes have different levels of starch in them; in some instances, you want tons of starch (like with my Lemon Potato Salad) and in other instances you want as little of starch as possible. This is one of those instances. I go with a good Russet, or Idaho, potato for my gnocchi because I want to control how much moisture is in my dough. Reds or Yukons will not work for this application. If you want to make gnocchi but don’t have russets at home, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE. Stop what you are doing. Go to the store and buy some russet potatoes.
Treat the potatoes with lots of love while they’re baking.
I like to bake my potatoes on a bed of salt WITH some hearty herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary etc). The reason being is that the salt helps draw out as much moisture out of the potatoes as possible while they’re baking. We want to control the amount of moisture in our dough. I also bake the potatoes with the herbs because the herbs begin to infuse their aromatics into the potatoes and it really make a difference in the overall outcome. Do a little experiment; make gnocchi without baking with herbs and then make gnocchi with baking herbs and you can tell the difference.
You have to have everything in order before making them.
In an earlier post, I mentioned how having everything in order, or our mise en place, was so important. I cannot stress enough how important this concept is in making gnocchi. It really can be one of the down falls to your gnocchi if you don’t have everything set up and ready to go before the potatoes are done baking.
Here is my list of things I use while making gnocchi
1 ricer (I’ll go over this point in just a moment)
1 bread knife
Aside from the potatoes, these are super important to have ready to go once the potatoes are out of the oven. The reason why leads well into my next pointer.
Heat= Fantastic Gnocchi.
What I mean by this is that you need to have the hottest and softest potatoes you can imagine and you need to work fast! Another reason why I love gnocchi is that it brings a lot of baking principles into cooking. My point being that you need steam in order to make fluffy and soft doughs or cakes. For gnocchi, this is accomplished by having piping hot potatoes and working as fast as possible to minimize the loss of heat during the process. This brings me to an important discussion of tools.
In my list above, I mentioned that I use a ricer, which is used to smoosh the hot potatoes into small “noodles” as it were. It makes sure that the pieces of potato are as small as possible so you can have a smooth dough. If you were just to mix the potato and flour and egg together without making the potatoes as small as possible, you would end up with hard lumps of potato in your pillows of goodness and it would be a sad day for everyone. Now you don’t have to use a ricer, per say, to accomplish this. I’ll go over the more popular tools I’ve seen used to accomplish what a ricer does and I’ll list you the pros vs. cons of each.
I’ve seen a food mill in action before and it is very efficient of making big food items into very small pieces. It is very thorough and the sieve portion has very small holes, which is excellent. However, a food mill is 1) pretty bulky and not very conducive to a small kitchen for the average home cook (if you happen to have a large kitchen and the space, be my guest and get one!). It also takes a lot of arm strength to turn the knob in circles again and again and again and again until all the potatoes are done. This means that this method takes time which can lead to more heat loss than we want from our potatoes. I’m not a huge fan of food mills for gnocchi making.
This thing is awesome! It has a wide sieve and small holes which means that you get a fine potato “noodle” and won’t let any partially uncooked potato through! However, this is also a time consuming method because you need to have a bowl scraper to help pass the potatoes all the way through the sieve. This means extra loss in heat which is damaging to our gnocchi.
This device is operated by pushing the handles together which makes the plunger part force the potatoes through the sieve on the bottom. The cons with this is that the perforated bottom has larger holes than either than the Tamis or Food Mill. The potatoes also tend to come up on the side of the ricer wall and could have the tendency to fall into your bowl of potato “noodles.” My way to combat this is 1) scoop any of the mashed potato out of the bowl of potato “noodles” and run them through the ricer again, 2) if I want to make sure that my potatoes are super well processed I can run the “noodles” through the ricer again. I find that using a ricer is a much more efficient and faster tool to use while making gnocchi and is my absolute recommendation.
Better to have too little flour than too much.
My last pointer is to error on the side of caution when it comes to making your gnocchi dough. I don’t measure out my flour because, much like making pasta, it’s going to differ each time. I definitely begin using less flour than I ought to because I can always add more. If I add too much flour in the beginning, there really is no way to get it out and the dough is ruined.
Work gently with the dough.
Unlike pasta dough, we don’t want our gnocchi dough to develop much gluten. We want it to melt into our mouths; this is accomplished by working the dough until it just forms into a ball, as well as adding an egg white with your whole egg in the dough. The egg white helps create the “light” textural mouth feel we want in our gnocchi.
Creating the ridges.
Don’t freak out on me if you don’t have a gnocchi paddle at home. You can create the ridges using the back of a fork. I will say though, if you fall in love with making gnocchi at home, a gnocchi paddle is the way to go and it’s not expensive at all! These ridges created by the paddle or fork help trap some sauce and they make the gnocchi’s look even cooler!
Gnocchi truly is a pleasure to make at home and is super fun for me! I’m so glad that I finally found the perfect time to show you my absolute favorite thing to make in the kitchen. I hope this post was super helpful for you but if you run into any trouble, leave me a comment with a question or concern you have and I’ll walk you through it!
- 3 each Russet potatoes
- 2 cups all purpose flour about
- 2 each Eggs one whole, one egg white
- 1/2 ounce hearty herbs sage, thyme, rosemary
- 1/2 cup salt use this salt to season your dough as well
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour salt onto a baking sheet, gently shaking pan to evenly distribute salt until the whole pan is covered. Lay herbs on top of salt.
Fork baking potatoes and place on to baking sheet with salt and herbs. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until completely soft (you want zero resistance).
Meanwhile, gather together the flour, eggs, bowls, ricer, spoon, and bread knife. Have them ready before potatoes are done cooking.
Once potatoes are soft, slice each open with a bread knife. Scoop hot potato into ricer and press through the bottom into a medium bowl. Continue for the other potatoes.
Press potatoes firmly in bowl until compact. Invert the bowl on a well-floured surface.
Make a well with the potatoes, placing egg and egg white in the middle. Season with salt and cover with flour.
Using a bowl scraper or a butter cutter, cut potatoes and other ingredients together until the flour is just mixed into the potato. Add flour in small increments until a ball is formed.
Once potato ball is formed, let rest on counter, covered with a towel (to help cool dough slightly), for about 20 minutes. Take this time to clean your counter of excess flour and potatoes that stuck to the counter.
After 20 minutes, cut small sections out of the dough ball and begin to roll into logs. Make sure logs are even in thickness throughout.
Using a paring knife, cut small sections of dough to create little pillows.
Using a fork or a gnocchi paddle, being to shape pillows by starting at the top and with your thumb, gently push the gnocchi down the board. The top of the gnocchi will begin to roll towards your thumb. Let fall on to a floured baking sheet.
Continue until all of the dough has been formed into little gnocchis.