Gnocchi – the delicious potato pasta
Handmade Gnocchi are not comparable to ready made ones!
Gnocchi [phonetic spelling: /ˈnjɒ.ki/] come from the southern alpine area of Piedmont and Veneto. The Austrian name for them is “Nockerl”, since they are also very spread in the Austrian kitchen. Made of potatoes with a high amount of starch, flour and a few varying additions, they are counted to the pasta dishes. Perfect as a first course “primo piatto”, or as a side to fish or meat, or simply as a main for lunch or dinner. However you like them, nothing is comparable to fresh handmade ones! But don’t be afraid of making this potato pasta. With a little bit of knowledge and some tricks, you will get the experience quite quickly and be a master chef for this very delicious food.
Time to get creative – make your own Gnocchi dish
There are many version of Gnocchi, some even with potatoes with a lower starch amount, some with egg yolk (our favorite) and some with ground Parmesan cheese. Some version also have vegetable parts in the dough, for example pumpkin or basil purree or other herbs. But all variants have in common that the main ingredient is potato purree and mostly flour. Again, we encourage you to get creative here and add other vegetables or herbs to your dough. We suggest that you start with more “dry” dough parts, since water or any moisture is the critical part in the dough, which can make it fall apart in your final cooking process. If you wish, you can also use a Rigagnocchi, which is a wodden board, carved with patterns or tracks, to make the Gnocchi pattern that are useful for binding the sauce when eathing them.
Recipe for 4 persons
Gnocchi basic recipe
- 600 gr Potatoes with a high starch amount floury, mealy potatoes
- 100 grams flour we recommend a flour sort with more “grip”
- optional 80 grams of hard wheat flour / pasta flour
- optional 1-2 egg yolks
- optional nutmeg
- There are many different versions of instructions here, including boiling unpeeled potatoes, baking them instead of bloing in water and more. We tried many of them and ended up with our own effective process that also takes care of the most critical part: the containing water in the potatoes.
- 1. We simply peel the potatoes right away and boil them in
salted water for about 20-25 minutes, depending on your sort.
- 2. When they are done, take them out and place them in a bigger metal bowl or metal
pan. Salt the potatoes now with the amount of salt that you want in your dough, this absorbs the remaining water out of the poratores in the next part of the process.
- 3. Heat up the oven at around 80 degrees and place the bowl with the potatoes in it for 45-60 minutes, or until you spot a dry surface on them.
4. Now mash the potatoes with a potato masher or press them through a potato press, which you usually use for making mashed potatoes, add the flour and the optional egg yolks into the bowl and start kneading the dough until it is homogenous enough, without any bigger flour or potato parts visible. This process is a bit time critical, since the starch starts converting in the dough and the forming process later is not that easy anymore if this kneading takes too long!
- 5. Take a piece of the dough and form rolls with about 2 cm in diameter on a wooden board covered with a bit of flour or potato starch, so the dough does not stick to the board.
- 6. Now cut small parts of it, around 2-3 cm, just as big as you want your Gnocchi to be. Then take a fork covered with flour and press the Gnocchi dough pieces gently on the wooden board in a way that the fork is pressing the pattern into the Gnocchi and it gets its final shape.
- 7. After you have the desired amount of Gnocchi, pour them one by one into a pot with well salted boiling water, so that they do not stick together. The Gnocchi are done when they start to swim at the surface. Take them out with a sieve spoon and place them directly on the plat
Tips and tricks
Putting the potatoes into the 80 degrees oven is a very helpful step to get rid of the most liquids. At no point add unwanted water or liquids to the potatoes or the dough, it will get too sticky immedately and unprocessable.
If you see that you dough is too sticky while kneading or forming the Gnocchi, simply add some flour or dry potato starch and knead for another 2-3 minutes. Just remember not to knead for too long, or the dough will get harder to form! But in general, the Gnocchi dough is a bit softer and stickier than for example pasta dough. So put a bit more flour on your wooden board to handle the stickyness better.
The best method to get very soft but processable Gnocchi is to add potato starch only to the outside of the dough to handle the stickyness, but at the same time maintain the fluffy soft consistency inside the dough.
Always check that the Gnocchi do not stick together at any process, this makes the forming and boiling parts a lot easier.
Some variants of Gnocchi
Gnocchi are a perfect base for your own creations on the plate. You can add some mediterranean herbs – like basil, salvia or oregano – with a little bit of butter and/or Parmesan cheese flakes, salt and pepper, or with any kind of pesto. Very simple, but really delicious. Or try the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina – also known as Gnocchi Caprese – by placing them into a tomato sauce in a pan, add some Mozarella cheese and grill the whole pan in the oven. Also decorate with basil and serve the pan hot. The starch of the Gnocchi will make the tomato sauce very creamy and super delicious!
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