Is it possible for gnocchi to be too soft? Too pillowy? These were the thoughts running through my head as I “bit” into my first homemade gnocchi. It was so delicate and light that the word gossamer popped into my head. Our dinner guests loved it, but I thought it could have used a tiny bit more chew.
I was curious about gnocchi because I’ve been making my own pasta, and gnocchi seemed to be a slightly sexier cousin. Plus I had heard that it was more difficult than pasta and I wanted a challenge.
It turns out that making gnocchi is pretty easy, except that you have to work quickly because once the dough cools down it becomes harder to shape them. I had an extra set of hands for that part. After consulting several sources, I mainly used the very detailed 101 Cookbooks Gnocchi instructions, changing it up a bit here and there with what I read in other cookbooks.
For eight people:
- 2 pounds Russet Potatoes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 egg
Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, 30-40 mins. While still hot, peel and run through a food mill or ricer into a bowl. (Peeling hot potatoes doesn’t sound nice, but Russets actually peel a lot easier than most potatoes.) Add ½ teaspoon salt and the egg and stir very quickly so that it doesn’t cook into eggy bits.
Turn the potato mixture onto the counter and add about half the flour. Knead lightly and quickly. Gradually add as much of the rest of the flour as is needed until it forms a nice, soft dough. Do not over-knead. (Perhaps if I had kneaded a bit more it would have had a little more chew.)
Pull off an orange-sized piece of dough and cover the rest to keep it warm. Flour the counter liberally and roll the dough out into a ¾-inch thick snake, just like using clay in elementary school, except use a lighter touch here and don’t put any of it into your nose. Flour it again and cut the snake into ¾-inch pieces.
If you want ridges on the gnocchi, turn a fork upside down on your counter and sprinkle it with flour. Take a piece of dough and smush it against the back of the fork so that some of it pushes through. Then, gently curl the gnocchi up from the bottom into a little “C” shape and set it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. I wasted a few gnocchi trying to get this right, but once you do it a few times you figure out the right touch. Repeat with rest of the dough but don’t let the gnocchi touch because they’ll stick together. You probably want to make the gnocchi on the same day you eat it because when I refrigerated the extra gnocchi it became very soft and sticky.
To cook the gnocchi you can either boil it for 2 minutes until it floats, or you can pan fry it with butter and olive oil until browned. Both are delicious. Use a delicate sauce for your feather-light gnocchi—I served it with a cream-based sauce, which worked nicely.