Monday, May 2, 2011

Double Take: Gnocchi

Homemade pasta is a challenge that I've wanted to attempt for a while now. I've watched Lydia Bastianovich make many pastas on PBS, envisioned unique ravioli fillings, etc. but had yet to venture into the great pasta unknown. Reality, it looks time consuming. Reality, some of it is time consuming but I think as you practice you get fast at it. I can live with that.

When Mel added gnocchi to the list of want to makes, I was excited and surprised. As I read the recipe, I continued to be surprised but with less enthusiasm. In the past, I've been notorious for not reading a recipe until starting it. In the last year, I've corrected that. Since Mel tends to be more of a stickler for details than myself, I was surprised at the vagueness of the recipe. I decided to give it a whirl. I'd watched Lydia make other pastas, how tough could it be.

Three things should now be noted:

           1) Never underestimate the mad skills of a professional.
           2) Watching a professional make pasta will be a huge asset the first time you try on your own.
           3) If the recipe causes panic, remember ingredients in different countries and different regions of countries
                vary greatly. Modification may be necessary and should not be a source of panic. Go based on what
                you know a recipe or dough should look like, not strictly on what is written.

Gnocchi (majorly adapted from One Hungry Chef)

Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 2 hrs 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Suggested Equipment:

a medium sized pot
sieve or potato ricer
a pair of nitrile gloves or at least a kitchen towel
a medium sized bowl


2 large baking potatoes (This means a starchy potato. An Idaho or Russet is ok. I prefer Yukon Gold. ~1lb)
3 eggs, yolks only
3 cups water
1/4 c. salt
2 - 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour (this will depend on many factors)
1/2 c. parmesan cheese, grated
a pinch of salt (1/8 tsp if you like measuring)
3 cups of ice water

How To:

Heat oven to 375 F and bake potatoes for 1 hour. (I like to foil wrap potatoes to bake them. This is up to you. One Hungry Chef placed his on a baking sheet with rock salt. I say, bake them however suits you.)

When potatoes are nearly done (at about 50 minutes), place the water and salt on the stove and bring to a boil.

When potatoes are done, slit them open. Hold them with a towel or nitrile gloves or both and scrape the insides of them into your sieve. Throw the skin in your compost.

Sieve the potatoes as quickly as possible into a medium bowl. I suggest mushing them through using a large spoon. You should have about 2 cups of sieved potatoes but if you must measure them, be quick and very gentle so as not to compress them back together.

Quickly add 3 egg yolks, 2 cups of flour, a pinch of salt, and parmesan. Work this mixture together to form a dough that is soft and slightly sticky. If it is extemely sticky, add more flour a little at a time. Its important for the potatoes to stay out but also not to be too packy. Also, flour types vary. If you're using White Lily, you'll need more flour than someone using Pillsbury. Pillsbury is a more dense flour. Similarly, European flours are more dense than many American flours. These are important tidbits to keep in mind as you're using a recipe.

Knead the dough a few times and it should form a soft ball. If its doesn't and its a sticky mess, you'll need a little more flour. The dough should be just firm enough to hold its shape, but not dense like pie dough.

Prepare your ice water bath.

Divide the dough into 3 sections. Roll it out into a thin snake. I like small pasta but some people like larger pasta. Normal for gnocchi is apparently about 1/2" - 3/4". Make it the size you'd prefer.

After creating a pasta snake, chop it into little squares using a knife. After chopping each snake, drop the pasta into the boiling water. The gnocchi will rise to the top. After they rise, let them cook for 1 minute 30 seconds. Remove the gnocchi and place it in the ice bath.

Continue rolling, boiling, and cooling gnocchi until all the dough is used.

Drain the gnocchi. Sprinkle with olive oil and refrigerate until ready to use or serve immediately with your favorite pasta sauce.


I think this was my first time eating gnocchi. I had no idea what to expect other than pasta. They didn't taste like potato to me though. Becky had eaten gnocchi before and really liked them. I thought they were a little large for my taste in pasta but that is easily modified. This recipe will work but I think next time I want to try gnocchi making, I will attempt Lydia Bastianovich's rendition and see if it makes a difference.

Pop over to Mel's to see her gnocchi creation.

1 comment:

  1. I think one of the reasons One Hungry Chef's recipes are a bit vague is that he is a professional chef. He's got some other posts that discuss exactly how vague recipes can be in a professional kitchen. As in, just a list of ingredients, no real instructions. Your experience led me to check out Smitten Kitchen's recipe, so a big thank you!