Gnocchi done right – easy peasy
By Tim O’Connor
Gnocchi, for me, has long been a favourite and a frustration.
I dream of those little clouds of potato dough, ideally with a bit of Italian sausage, arugula, butternut squash, a buttery sauce or garlic sauce, or even a bolognese.
What’s frustrating is that every gnocchi I’ve bought in a store has been hard, not pillowy, and while a hard pillow can work, hard gnocchi keeps me up at night. As for cookbooks, the ratios have been off in every gnocchi recipe I’ve tried, and the mixed ingredients never stay together.
I made a lot of regrettable gnocchi as I developed my own recipe, but in the end it’s easy if your ratios are spot on. You boil potatoes until soft, then add flour, egg, salt and maybe nutmeg and white pepper. Then cook the gnocchi in boiling water until they float, or be like California chef Jonathan Waxman and sear them in a pan and then add stock until cooked.
Two essential tips: Always cook gnocchi frozen, and don’t alter the recipe. I’ve reduced and doubled this recipe with limited success. This recipe will make more than one meal, so you’ll have gnocchi in your freezer to enjoy whenever.
Tim O’Connor grew up in the Glebe and is head chef at Flora Hall Brewing.
Gnocchi done right
Boil 750 grams of unpeeled potato, about three whole big spuds, in salted water until soft but not mushy. Drain, peel and mash immediately until lumps are gone. Using a potato ricer is ideal.
To the warm potatoes (they’ll get too starchy if mixed cold) add 400 grams of flour, mix. Don’t overwork the dough. I use my hands because that’s the type of guy I am, but a wooden spoon will do.
Add a pinch of salt, maybe a pinch each of white pepper and nutmeg.
Whisk two eggs, add to dough and stir until combined. Do not get distracted or take a break to phone your grandma – mix in those eggs immediately.
The dough should feel tacky but not stick to your hands, and it should be a little wet, so dust your surface with flour or semolina. Cut dough into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a cylinder, about the diameter of a dime, dusting them with flour as needed to keep from sticking, and cut to your desired size, two or three or four centimetres. If you want big suckers, make them bigger; if you want small guys, make them smaller.
Put cut gnocchi on a pan so they’re not touching and put in freezer until the exteriors are frozen, then put them in a plastic bag or container and freeze thoroughly.
Cook from frozen in salted, boiling water, or use the Waxman method – sear the gnocchi in a pan on medium heat, add a bit of stock or water and boil in pan until cooked through.