Homemade gnocchi

8 Jan

I have recently been on a sort of “make from scratch” mission.  One of the first things I decided to make was gnocchi.  I used the recipe from smittenkitchen.  It essentially involves making a pasta base, mixing in grated cooked potato, and then forming into the gnocchi shapes (which is probably the hardest part of the process).  For some reason I decided to first attempt to make gnocchi when we were having some friends over for dinner.  Following a failure of organisation, I still had essentially all of the gnocchi making to go when the guests arrived, very bad hostess.  It turned out ok, as the guests could be sufficiently entertained via cricket on tv.

Anyway, onto the making process.  The recipe says to use russet potatoes.  The ones I used looked like this


You prick them all over with a fork, and then bake them until they are soft.  Then they will look something like this


You then remove the skins (after letting them cool for a while), and grate them (or put them through a potato ricer or a food mill, if you have either).  I grated mine, and it turned out fine.  They are then mixed into the dough (see below for full recipe).  Then comes the fun/time consuming part – the shaping.  The technique is to get a small amount of dough and roll it on the back of a fork.  It then becomes kind of like a cylinder with lines around it, caused by the fork tines.  Mine looked like this


or this, if you really want to look at them close up


As you can see, my first lot were not particularly well shaped, but you get the general idea.  I think with practice you would get the knack of it.

You then just add them to boiling water and cook until they float to the top.  Then you add a delicious pasta sauce, and you are all set.  I served mine with a basic tomato pasta sauce, made essentially from onion, garlic and canned tomatoes, with some veges cooked in.  It turned out pretty yum.

The full recipe for this gnocchi, taken from smittenkitchen, is as follows:

2 pounds Russet potatoes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork, and bake them on a baking sheet for 45 minutes to one hour, or until they are fork-tender. For best results, turn the potatoes over halfway through the baking time. Let the potatoes cool slightly.
  2. Peel the potatoes, and then pass them through a potato ricer, food mill or grate them over the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. Add the lightly beaten egg and the salt to the potatoes and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the flour to the potatoes a little at a time, using only as much as you need so that the dough will not stick to your hands. When the flour has been incorporated, bring the dough together with your fingertips.
  4. Dump the dough and any remaining floury bits onto a slightly floured surface. Knead the dough as you would bread dough. Press down and away with the heel of your hand, fold the dough over, make a quarter turn, and repeat the process. Knead for about three or four minutes.
  5. Form the dough into a ball and then divide it into 6 smaller balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the six pieces using your fingertips into a long rope about 3/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces.
  6. You can cook the gnocchi as it is now, but traditional gnocchi has ridges. To create the ridges, press each piece of dough against the tines of a fork. With your finger, gently roll the pressed dough back off the fork. This takes a little practice. If you find the dough sticking to the fork, dip the fork in flour before you press the dough against it.
  7. Place the gnocchi in a single layer on a lightly floured or parchment-lined dish. If you’d like to freeze them for later use, do so on this tray and once they are frozen, drop them into a freezer bag. This ensures that you won’t have one enormous gnocchi mass when you are ready to cook them.
  8. To cook the gnocchi, place them into a pot of boiling and well-salted water. After a few minutes the gnocchi will float to the top. Continue to cook for one minute then remove and set aside.

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