RECIPE: Potato gnocchi

by - April 23, 2009

I've always been on the fence with gnocchi. Often stodgy, sometimes gluey, occasionally pappy. It is hard to get them spot on and seems like everyone likes them a different consistency. They are a really old Italian tradition (dating back as far as the 1300s) and you will find that different regions produce and serve them in different ways (as with everything!)

We always make potato gnocchi in our family but you can find them made from semolina, bread or ricotta. The quantities below will feed 4 people handsomely.

1kg potatoes (old starchy potatoes are the best)
200g plain flour (but you can end up using quite a bit more depending on your potatoes)
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt

Steam the potatoes until they are tender - I just shove my colander on my biggest saucepan. Steaming them is better than boiling them as they will have held less water, forming the gnocchi better. Mash whilst they are still hot (very important). Stir in the flour, egg, salt and when it is cool enough to handle, knead to a soft dough. The dough must be right, so be careful with the flour, adding it cautiously at first and not being afraid of adding more. If there is too much flour they will be hard like bullets and if they are too soft they will fall apart in cooking (don't ask my mum about her infamous gnocchi soup day.)

Now for the fun bit! Roll the dough into long sausages about 1.5cm thick then cut into pieces on the diagonal about 1.5cm wide. Press them gently in the middle to form a little scoop where the sauce can sit nicely.

As soon as you have finished them, place them in a pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt. They should float to the surface after just a few minutes when you should remove them with a slotted spoon.

In our neck of the woods, we like to serve them with broccoli or cauliflower, a bit of thick, basic tomato sauce and a good shaving of Parmesan or Pecorino. The greens really do help to balance the dish and prevent it being too heavy.

A brilliant cheap eat dish!

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