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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Homemade Gnocchi

There's nothing like homemade gnocchi. Gnocchi literally means "lumps" in Italian and they're kind of like little dumplings that you can use instead of pasta. The gnocchi you can buy in the supermarkets are very "doughy" and don't represent what I personally prefer in terms of consistency. I like my gnocchi to be fluffy and light and the following recipe shows you how to do it that way. The secret to good gnocchi is making sure that the potato is as dry as possible before you add the egg and flour. That's why I bake my potatoes rather than boil them. Personally, I find gnocchi is far easier to make than pasta once you get the hang of it and a good "cheat" if you want to impress at dinner parties with Italian food!

Serves 2-3

2-3 baking potatoes (depending on size, 2 if they're huge, 3 if not)
1 egg yolk (although I retain a very small amount of white because I think it makes it fluffier)
Handful and a half of tipo 00 flour (you may not need all of it)
Semolina flour to dust

The easiest way to bake your potatoes is to stick them in the microwave. You don't need a crispy skin because you will be discarding it so my advice is to put them in the microwave on full for 10-15 minutes (remember to prick the skin multiple times so they don't explode!) or until soft inside. You can of course do them in the oven but it will take considerably longer. Once cooked, set aside until cool.

Halve the potatoes and scoop out the middle into a bowl. Mash them thoroughly until you have an extremely smooth mash (I start with a masher and then spend a bit of time with a fork). Add an egg yolk to the mash and whisk it in (as previously stated, I retain a little tiny bit of the white). Add a little finely grated nutmeg and then start slowly adding the tipo 00 flour to the mash until you start to get a dough. The dough should be slightly sticky and you just want enough flour to bind it together. If you add too much flour, your gnocchi will start getting more like the stuff you buy in supermarkets which is what we're trying to avoid. You don't need to knead gnocchi dough for very long, just a minute at most so everything is combined properly.

Once you've done the above, dust a work surface and a tray with semolina flour and roll out the dough with your hands into long sausage shapes just over half an inch in diameter. Cut the long sausage shapes into inch long pieces and put on the floured tray. If you were being really fancy you can score each gnocchi piece with a fork but I generally can't be arsed. Pop the tray into the fridge for half an hour to set.

Cooking the gnocchi is pretty much the same as cooking fresh pasta. Boil a pan of salted water and then drop the gnocchi into it. The gnocchi will be cooked about thirty seconds after they rise to the surface of the pan, mine usually take about 2-3 minutes to cook. Serve with the sauce of your choice immediately.

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