Todd, who is The Daring Kitchen’s AWESOME webmaster and an amazing cook, is our September Daring Cooks’ host! Todd challenged us to make light and fluffy potato Gnocchi and encouraged us to flavor the lil pillows of goodness and go wild with a sauce to top them with!
When the September Challenge for Potato Gnocchi came up, I immediately thought “this is going to be hard” and was a little less than excited because I’ve had some really bad gnocchi over the years. It seems that it is rarely cooked correctly and comes to the table a slimy mess that fills your mouth and you just want it out because it’s so gummy and nasty. But I’m up for a challenge, plus I have always wanted to give it a try just to see what homemade gnocchi would be like.
After surfing potato gnocchi recipes on the Internet and comparing notes between them, I ended up using the ingredients offered by Manuela from Manu’s Menu and the directions from another recipe (I can’t remember which one or find it again. I forgot to bookmark it). Her basic potato gnocchi recipe appears authentic and she gives great directions for making it, something that I needed since this was the first time. I also adapted her recipe for Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina for the finished potato gnocchi. So check it out on the link here, if you want to try it out as well.
The first problem I noticed was that I didn’t have a food mill or ricer to run my potatoes through and I wasn’t running out to buy one just for this recipe (although I just might now after making it and the fact that I just made homemade ketchup as well and could have used one for it as well). With a little more web surfing, I found a suggestion to run the potatoes through a box grater, which ended up working great, so for anyone who might be hesitant about trying this because of lacking equipment, don’t worry there is a solution that worked well.
I also found that the potato gnocchi recipes differed greatly on whether or not you should boil the potatoes in water or roast them in the oven. I ended up opting to roast them and I’m glad that I did because it dries more of the moisture out of the potatoes and I was working hard not to create a slimy gnocchi so I figured anything that removes more water is better (Toss in extras to use for hash browns or baked potatoes later). This is one of my changes away from Manuela’s recipe.
To my surprise, potato gnocchi turned out EASY TO MAKE! I just worked the four basic ingredients of potatoes, egg, salt and flour into a dough, rolled it out and formed it into gnocchi. Easy! I made half of it in the traditional shape using the back of a fork since I did not have a gnocchi board and left the other half in little square pillows and froze them. Yes I have more to eat and am looking forward to it.
I served it up to the hubby in a beautiful tomato pasta sauce filled with cheese and then topped the dish with more cheese. The Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina does have a lot of fresh mozzarella in it but what could be better than a light fresh pasta sauce, stringy mozzarella and wonderful homemade potato gnocchi? I am thinking “not too much.” The dish turned out great. My hubby said it was a “restaurant quality dish” and that he wanted more.
The gnocchi turned out soft, pillowy and not slimy at all. It really does come down to cooking it correctly. The entire dish was heaven in the mouth. And I really had to agree with my hubby, I want more. So potato gnocchi is here to stay in our household, especially now that I know how easy it is to make, and I will be making the absolutely awesome tomatoey, cheesy, Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina again sometime very soon. Homemade Gnocchi is one of the Italian’s best kept secrets!!!
2.2 pounds russet potatoes (conversion from 1 kg) (Russet potatoes are baking potatoes such as the Idaho types)
1 large egg
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup of flour plus some extra for rolling out the gnocchi
Bake potatoes at 325° F until soft or about 1.25 hours here in Denver. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down until cool enough to handle. It’s now time to mash them. You could run them through a food mill or ricer to remove the skins and get the right texture or do as I did and grate them through the box grater. Do remove the skins and do not run your potatoes through a food processor. You’ll just make a gummy mess, which might be one of the reasons for what causes the bad gnocchi I’ve had.
Time to make your dough. I like to mix it with my hands because I can feel the right consistency coming together as I make it. Add the processed potatoes to a large bowl, followed by the flour and salt. Mix well, add the egg and kneading the dough together until it forms a smooth texture. Add more flour if necessary. Your dough is ready when it is soft and pliable and doesn’t stick to the surface anymore.
Divide dough into 8 or 10 balls. Leave one on the counter and place the rest in a bowl and cover with a towel to prevent drying out. Roll each ball into 1/2″ to 3/4″ ropes. Cut the rope into #/4″ pieces and place on a floured baking sheets or tray. You can cook them just like this or just the back of a fork or a gnocchi board to roll them into their traditional shape. If using a fork, roll the ribs of the fork over the gnocchi pillow, making raised ribs in it and then curve the piece around on itself to make the shape. Allow the gnocchi to rest for about 15 minutes before cooking them.
Fill a large pot with water and salt. Your water should taste salty like the sea and bring to a boil. Toss in the gnocchi. When gnocchi floats to the top, cook for about 30 seconds to a minute longer and then remove. You can always check one for doneness to make sure it’s not slimy before removing them. Like with any pasta, you don’t want to overcook them, but you do want them done.
Place the finished gnocchi straight into your prepared sauce of choice. Mix well over a hot burner for a couple of minutes and serve hot. Potato gnocchi is good with most any pasta sauce, brown butter, pesto or Gorgonzola cheese. Just don’t do the heating if serving with pesto. Pesto should never be heated.
Storage tip: This makes a large recipe of potato gnocchi so you can freeze part of it by placing your baking sheets or tray into the freezer for at least an hour, then place the frozen gnocchi into a freezer bag and you have more for later. Just cook from frozen form following the same directions for cooking.