As I mentioned in my last post my brother-in-laws aunt makes wonderful gnocchi and at a recent family dinner she kindly taught me just how she does it. Gnocchi has always been something I’ve found hard to master, they either turn out like rubber bullets or are so soft they break apart in the water. Zia Sonya’s method produces perfectly textured gnocchi – just the right amount of density whilst still remaining lovely and light. There are a lot of different techniques for making gnocchi which can make things even more confusing. Some recipes call for the potatoes to be steamed and not boiled whilst others insist that the potatoes have to be riced or mashed whilst still hot. Zia Sonya does neither and they were perfect, turns out gnocchi aren’t that scary after all. We served the gnocchi with this beef short rib ragu but they would be wonderful with any sauce, from a simple tomato to a decadent creamy gorgonzola. If you want to freeze the gnocchi, place them spread apart on a baking sheet or plate and place in the freezer. When the gnocchi have frozen transfer them to a freezer bag.
Ingredients – Serves 4-6
1kg unpeeled medium-sized potatoes (try to make sure they are all roughly the same size) – we used desiree
1½ cups plain flour, plus extra as needed
1 egg yolk
Wash the potatoes well and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water, put on the lid and bring to the boil. Simmer potatoes until they are tender all the way through. Depending on the size and type of potato this could take anywhere from 20-30 minutes. When the potatoes are cooked take them out of the water straight away and drain them well. When they are cool enough to handle peel them and using a ricer or a mouli mash them into a large bowl.
Add the egg and egg yolk and lightly work it into the mashed potatoes. Flour a work surface well and dump the potato and egg mixture out. Add the flour, about a half a cup at a time and using your hands lightly incorporate it into to the potatoes. You don’t want to overwork the potatoes or the flour too much – if you do you’ll activate the gluten in the flour and the starch in the potatoes which will toughen the gnocchi.
Your dough when it is ready should be smooth, not sticky or wet and should look similar to the second photo above. Depending on the type of potatoes you’ve used you may need to add more flour, sometimes a lot more, there are a lot of variables so just judge it by feel and add more or less until you get the right consistency.
To shape the gnocchi, take a portion of dough and using your hands roll it on a well floured surface into a long roll about 1½ cm’s thick. Using a knife cut the gnocchi into short lengths, making sure they’re all roughly the same size. Place on a floured tray or plate and repeat with the remaining dough. If you wish to make ridges on the gnocchi, roll them on the back of a fork but I don’t think it’s necessary. To cook the gnocchi bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Gently add the gnocchi and cook, stirring them around very lightly. Once they rise to the surface cook them for another minute then gently lift them out using a slotted spoon. You want to dress your gnocchi pretty quickly so have some sauce standing by that you can add them to or else place them on a serving platter and gently combine them with some sauce. If you want to prepare your gnocchi ahead of time place them into a large baking dish, add some sauce making sure all the gnocchi are coated. Cover the dish with foil and place into a low oven. When you’re ready to serve, plate the gnocchi and add extra sauce on top.