Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gnoccho cum laude

Alternate title: Gnoccho erat demonstrandum

Gnocchi, as an easy and storable potato delivery vehicle, are a staple in my household. I have never really used/made a recipe for them even though I have made reference to such recipe as would exist, and Lillian has written a recipe for squash gnocchi. Also, it appears there is little agreement on whether (potato) gnocchi properly contain egg, so I decided to simultaneously systematize, record, and perfect my basic spud gnocchi recipe here.

Experimental procedure:
1) Boil a bunch of potatoes until soft. I have generally skinned them after cooking by just peeling off the skins; however, this is a bit messy and scaldy, so I would suggest just peeling them in advance.

2) Mash or run through a ricer. Most recipes you'll find on gnocchi say something along the lines of "optimal texture is achieved if a ricer is used." This strikes me as a load of hooey, as we're just going to mash it all up with flour and knead it into a consistent dough 2 steps from now, and I think you would be hard pressed to distinguish riced from mashed at that point.

3) Here is the part where you decide on eggs. I weighed my potatoes after boiling and peeling and came up with 5.5 pounds, and divided it into two batches of around 2.75 pounds each. One got 2 eggs, and they both got the same amount of flour (more on that later).
Oh shit, Joe's weighing things!

We broke a couple off each batch and boiled them. Our results: inconclusive. We could tell them apart, but neither was obviously preferable to the other. We just combined them, making a batch of 5.5 pounds potatoes, 2 eggs, and 4 cups flour, which, relative to most gnocchi recipes (which generally use around 1 egg per pound potatoes) is an eggless recipe. So, I will suggest you simply save the eggs and skip them entirely.

Eggs on the right

4) There is an optimal amount of flour to use. Too little and when you boil them you will simply find mush in the bottom of your pot, too much and they will get tough. Based on past experiencem, we started with about 1 cup per 2 pounds. This was enough for them to hold together, but they were very fragile, so we ended up upping the amount until we arrived at 4 cups for the 5.5 pounds, which is nearasdammit 3/4c per pound potato. This provides a gnoccho which is firm, easy to fry, yet fluffy and creamy inside.

5) Boil them until they float. I cannot improve upon this step.

My preferred method for preparing gnocchi is frying. Crispy exteriors are win.

Actual recipe:

Any amount of potatoes, specifically a high-starch, low-moisture variety such as russet
3/4c of flour per pound of potato
1 tsp salt per pound of potato

1) Peel, boil, and mash or rice potatoes.
2) Work salt and flour into mashed potatoes, knead into an even dough
3) Working with small quantities, roll out into ropes and cut into little pillow shapes. I don't both with any dimpling/forks etc, they do just fine smooth. I find the smaller the better, so try for around the size of a nickel.

If you know what's good for you, you'll fry them with some meat and veggies.Shown here with spicy hmong sausage, tomatoes, roasted peppers, scallions, and parmesan


Lorna said...

This looks simply wonderful.
We have been living on your muesli recipe for some weeks now. It is wonderful. None of us like fruit with our muesli and so I was finally able to make everyone something we like. We like lots of nuts, seeds, coconut and honey as a sweetener.
Thank you again!

Adam D said...

Ricing the potatoes is not optional in my opinion. You would think that with kneading the flour into the potato that you would negate any benefit that the ricer provided, but you would be wrong. Riced potatoes actually make a lighter more airy dough even after kneading and runs fewer risks of getting gluey.