Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Tips For Perfect Gnocchi

Gnocchi are traditional Italian dumplings which are cooked in boiling salted water or, less commonly, fried in oil until crispy. Gnocchi can be shop-bought but it is so easy to make and once you've had a few practise runs the variations are endless as gnocchi can be made with a variety of vegetables, such as butternut squash, beetroot, nettles, Parmesan, sun dried tomato and olives or even ricotta cheese.

Here are my top tips to remember when making homemade gnocchi -

(1). Potatoes - As with most things to make good gnocchi you need good potatoes. Always use a starchy potato such as Russets, Golden Wonder or Maris Piper.

(2). Boiling - Always boil your potatoes with the skin on, the skin will stop the potato becoming waterlogged whilst boiling. 

(3).  Boiling - Only boil your potatoes till just tender and before the potato skins begin to split.

(4).  Preheat your oven to 200 centigrade/ gas mark 6 while your potatoes are boiling then once they are just tender remove them from the water, place on a baking tray and allow them to dry in the oven for five minutes before removing skins.

(5). Removing the skins - DO NOT BURN YOURSELF -  Let the potatoes cool for a couple of minutes then carefully remove the potato skins. Gnocchi should always be made with warm potatoes as this will make a more light, fluffy gnocchi but BE CAREFUL.

(6). Mashing - For a smooth, light gnocchi always mash your potatoes while they are warm, ideally use a food mill or potato ricer but if you don't have one use a regular potato masher and mash them as smooth as you can.

(7). Flour - Sieve your flour into the mashed potatoes carefully never add the whole amount of flour. Potatoes are all different, some will absorb less flour than others so add some flour, then mix, add more flour, then mix, till you have a smooth, firm but still slightly sticky dough.

(8). Rolling - When rolling out the sausage shapes before cutting your gnocchi - WORK QUICKLY -  gnocchi dough, like pastry, will become tougher the more you work it.

(9). Ridges - The ridges on gnocchi are not there to just look pretty - they give the gnocchi a surface for your sauce to cling to.  The ridges can be made by rolling the dumpling along a ridged gnocchi board or rolling them over the back of a floured fork or even better rolling them over a floured, curved cheese grater.

(10). Storing - If your not cooking your gnocchi straightaway, dust the gnocchi with a little flour and leave at room temperature for up to two hours then cook them. If you have really have to freeze your gnocchi you will need to part cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes then place on a tea towel in a single layer to dry and cool. Once cooled and dried place in a freezer bag or container and freeze then cook them from frozen when needed.

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