My first attempt at Potato Gnocchi failed miserably. I watched loads of cooking shows where they made it look really simple so I gathered my ingredients and instructions and headed to the kitchen. I did really well. I seemed to have the right texture and consistency so I boiled one to see if it had enough flour. It did okay but started to fall apart. I added a little more flour and tried again. And I tried very hard not to knead it too much so they wouldn’t get all hard when the cooked. I wanted little pillows of yummy potato, just as everyone described. I continued and cut all my Gnocchi when I thought I had it right. And then I dropped them into the pot of simmering water. And POOF! I had potato water. Yes, they dissolved completely. Now what was I to do with all these little Gnocchi I cut. We attempted to pan fry them with no success and ate what was basically fried mashed potatoes for dinner.
I really like Gnocchi but the ones you buy in the store are terrible. I had home made growing up so I know what they’re supposed to taste like. You know, those vacuum packed ones in the Italian food section of the store are just scary. How can that delicate little morsel still be good after being vacuumed and stuck on a shelf.
As soon as I saw that my local Whole Foods was doing a Hands On class I signed my husband and I up for it.
I’m including the recipe for basic Gnocchi and the Potato Gnocchi with Sauteed Prawns in a Burnt Butter Sauce in this one blog. This is the recipe that inspired me to learn to make my own Potato Gnocchi. It’s a time consuming job to make Potato Gnocchi so I suggest you make them first and freeze them. Then you can throw the meal together quickly.
You’ll need that handy potato ricer for this recipe. Otherwise you can’t get your potatoes to the right consistency for a good Gnocchi. The food mill didn’t work as well, we tried it in class.
Cook the potatoes until tender, then remove from the heat and allow them to steam/cool for 10 minutes.
We were given lots of advice on how to cook these potatoes. You don’t want to add too much water to them because it will affect your finished Gnocchi. They roasted theirs in the skin. If you want to peel them first and boil them, which was not recommended, or steam them you can then lay them out on a baking sheet and put them in a low oven for a while to dry out. You want a nice dry potato About 200 degrees F and keep an eye on them. Since my potatoes were already baked for me I haven’t tried this method first. But let me tell you, if you bake those potatoes and don’t peel them right away it’s hard to get the peels off.
Pass the warm potatoes through a ricer into a large mixing bowl. Add the Parmesan, egg, a pinch of salt and some of the flour and knead to a soft elastic dough. Gradually add flour to get the right consistency.
Be careful of the ratio of potato to flour; if there is too much flour, the gnocchi will be hard; if there is too much potato, they will dissolve while cooking. Pinch a small ball of dough, about 3/4 inch, and roll it around in your hands. The dough will be slightly sticky in your hands when you do this. When you think you have it right, make a ball and drop it into simmering water. Let it cook until it floats to the top. As long as it holds together, then you’ll be able to taste it.
Shape the dough into long rolls around 3/4 of an inch in diameter and cut into 3/4 inch lengths. In a pot of boiling, salted water add the gnocchi (a few at a time) and remove from the water once they float. Drain the gnocchi, and serve with your favorite sauce.
You can lay these out on a parchment covered baking sheet or container before cooking and stick them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen transfer them to a container or freezer bag and keep them frozen until ready to use. The school had a blast freezer so we got to bring most of ours home for a later time. We made 3 different kinds of Gnocchi so I have food for later.
Yield: 6 servings
Source: Austin Whole Foods Culinary Center
For the sage butter, heat the butter in a shallow frying pan. When starting to bubble, add the sage leaves and cook until crisp and almost translucent. Pour through a sieve placed over a bowl. Spread the leaves on paper towel to drain. Keep warm. Reserve butter.
When ready to cook the gnocchi, heat about 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a wide frying pan. It should reach beurre noisette (nut brown stage) before adding one-third of the shrimp (prawn meat). Sauté for one minute, deglaze with a dash of Verjuice and add 2 teaspoons of capers.
Cook gnocchi in a large pan of boiling salted water in small batches of 20 pieces at a time. Shortly after the gnocchi has risen to the surface (test to see if it is cooked) remove with a strainer, drain and add to the pan of butter and shrimp. Toss the pan to coat the gnocchi in the butter. Season with salt and pepper and add 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. Spoon among 2 serving plates and top with fried sage leaves.
Deglaze the pan with a little of the sage butter previously saved and pour over the finished gnocchi. Repeat twice more to complete 6 serves. This recipe works best when done in the smaller batches because it’s easier to move the gnocchi around and not destroy them.
Yield: 6 servings
Verjuice, the juice of unripe grapes, was once a staple of French provincial cooking. It lends a gentle acidity to food and is lemony but not harsh on the palate, fresh but not too tart. Its balance of acidity and sweetness make it a marvelous ingredient, particularly in sauces and dressings.