Monday, February 25, 2008

The Gnocchi gods...

Well, since Chris had me over to his house for sushi I figured that turn-about was fair play, and so invited him over for some gnocchi:


Some info about gnocchi:

- Generally when us americans think about gnocchi we think about potato gnocchi, but this is not the only type out there. They can be made from semolina, wheat flour, or even bread crumbs.

- no recipe that you read for gnocchi is correct. No matter how closely you follow it it will not turn out as expected. The basic problem is this:

To make a cohesive dough you need to add eggs and flour. How much eggs and flour depends on a lot of factors that cannot be expected beforehand. Factors like how dry the potatoes are, the humidity in the air, and the size of the eggs.

If you use too much flour or egg then you will get very heavy gnocchi that are not as tasty as they could be.

If you don't use enough flour and egg then your gnocchi will come apart when you boil them, leaving you with a messy pot, and empty plates.


If you make dough for breads and what-not then you will probably make a good gnocchi dough.


If, however, you are like me then you just have to pray to the gnocchi gods to help fill your guest's bowls. Even with lots of praying sometimes things go wrong.


So, this is how I made my gnocchi after lots of prayer:

- Take some really starchy potatoes (idaho are what I used) and either bake (what I did) or boil them for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until they are easily pierced with a fork.


- After allowing them to cool, run them through a potato ricer. What do you mean 'what is a potato ricer?'? Seriously, you have to have one of these, but you should have one anyway because they make REALLY soft and fluffy mashed potatoes too:


- Now you have a lot of potato, but no dough yet. For that you need to add flour. This time around I tried to make some nice light fluffy gnocchi since my last attempt turned into glorified lead weights. So to my 2 lbs of potato I added about 1 cup of flour and 1 egg. For taste I also added a healthy pinch of salt and pepper, some cumin, and a few cloves of roasted garlic.


- I worked it into a dough (since my hands were covered in potato and I was under time constraints, I did not take pictures), and rolled it into a log about the width of my finger. Then I cut it down into 1/2 inch wide pieces and made an indent with my finger in each one to help hold onto the sauce later.

If you wanted to save the gnocchi for to cook later in the week, dust it with flour and lay it out in a single layer on a cookie pan and set it in the freezer. Once they harden you can throw them in a ziploc baggie and simply cook them another day


- Throw your gnocchi into a large pot of salted boiling water about 20 at a time. Cooking these little guys is a breeze. Once they float they are done! Remove with a slotted spoon.


- At this point if you like the consistency you can add sauce and serve. I generally like mine to have a bit of a crust on them though so I opt to fry them after boiling. To do this just heat some butter in a pan and toss in your gnocchi. Once you have the desired consistency throw it in a bowl with some sauce and you are good to go.


And the sauce? Well it is the same basic sauce that I made last time, but this time I took the bell pepper out, added some leftover lamb roast (gotta have your protein!!) and set it to low heat while cooking the gnocchi. Add some mushrooms that are cooked with butter and a splash of white wine and you got yourself a right fine meal.


I have to say that this batch of gnocchi turned out simply OK. The flavor was great but they weren't dense enough and didn't hold up all that great to the water. Definitely edible, but not ideal. We also just cooked the frozen extra this evening for dinner, and they fell apart pretty quickly in the water.


I would definitely add more flour next time, and leave the rest as is. I think Chris enjoyed the meal, even if it wasn't as fancy as the sushi... :)


Other Gnocchi sites recipes for reference:


Kitty said...

Gosh, your blog sometimes makes me very very hungry.

TomboCheck said...

Kitty - :) Sometimes when I go back through old posts I just start salivating. When that happens I know what I'm making for dinner that night.

Mike said...

My gosh that sounds and looks good. Seriously good. You need to start shipping foods out to the rest of us.

TomboCheck said...

I can just see it now. Fellow bloggers receiving frozen gnocchi packaged in Dri-Ice with a little note: "From my blog to your's". :)

Chickenbells said...

I have some truffles I brought back from Italy with me for the express purpose of making gnocchi with truffles...mmmm. I keep threatening to do that, but haven't yet. Perhaps a dinner date is in order? Oh...wait, Rich can't eat truffles (I don't think...)but, I'm sure I can come up with a good alternative...

TomboCheck said...

Chickenbells - I'm in. I've never cooked with truffle before, but I know I like eating stuff with truffle in it!! :)