Gnocchi is a joy to eat and to make – and very much superior to anything you can buy in the supermarket. My history of making it however has been fraught to say the least, from dough that looks like cake mix to that which disintegrates in the pan. My advice would be to perfect the skill before you have a table full of hungry guests (I have learnt the hard way – sorry, guys…)!
Fret not, as I have trawled the recipe books and here is a recipe that comes good every time.
The basic gnocchi recipe here comes from the River Cafe Green book. Before we start, there are a few golden rules to bear in mind to avoid gnocchi meltdown.
1) The potatoes must, must, must be dry before you mix the dough! So don’t cut the potatoes up and boil them in water as you could to make mash. Use a floury potato, such as Desiree, and then cook them whole with the skins on, and peel them when hot.
2) Only mix in the flour and eggs once the potato mash is cool.
3) Use as little flour as you need to to bind the dough – the less you use, the tastier the gnocchi!
4) This is really a serving point, but try to come up with a sauce that won’t overpower your delicate gnocchi. A simple tomato sauce, sage butter, or a light lemon cream sauce are ideal accompaniments.
1kg floury potatoes
2 large, free range egg yolks
150g plain flour
1 tsp salt, pepper to taste
As I mentioned above, you need to keep your potatoes as dry as possible. Put them whole in a pan of boiling water and cook until tender when speared with a knife. Mash or put through a mouli.
Seive your flour and semolina, and whisk your egg yolks with a fork. When the potato is cool, mix the ingredients together with the salt. Keep some of the flour and semolina mix aside as you may not need it all if your potatoes are moist at all.
Using your hands, gently combine until you have a dough-like consistency. Add the rest of the flour and semolina if necessary. This isn’t bread-making, so stop as soon as you think you have good texture, to avoid over-working the dough!
Using a sharp knife, cut your dough into four equal pieces and turn out onto a floury surface.
Use a sharp knife to cut each roll of dough into individual gnocchi pieces – roughly at 2.5cm intervals so you get little cubes. Afterwards press down the top of each with a fork, so that you form the ridges that the sauce can cling to.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and gently lower in the gnocchi. Depending on your pan size, unless it’s very big you’ll probably have to do two batches. Each gnocchi should have a bit of space around it so that it doesn’t stick to other gnocchi.
Once the gnocchi are cooked, they will spring up to the surface of the water. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and drain.
You have a choice whether to lightly fry the gnocchi in butter – to give it a golden edge – or serve immediately. As I said before, choose a simple sauce that won’t overpower your lovely gnocchi.
Here is mine served up with a simple mix of braised cabbage, garlic and topped with parmesan.
If you don’t want to eat all the gnocchi in one go, you can store the uncooked gnocchi on a floured plate for a day or so before cooking – any longer and the dough tends to go soggy!