01 May 2011

Double Take: Gnocchi inspired by One Hungry Chef

Potatoes on a salt bed, ready for the oven

Gnocchi is one of those foods I keep seeing everywhere. It keeps popping up on blogs I frequent, it's on menus everywhere, and I see it in the stores all the time. I've ordered it a few times in restaurants, but never totally been blown away by it. But all the blogs say it is so much better homemade, so I gave in and decided to try it. And Tabitha agreed we should do it for a Double Take. 

One of the common ways I've seen it served is in a gorgonzola sauce. While the sauce was tasty, it was missing an acid to cut the cloyingness from the cheese and cream. I think even a few grape tomatoes served on top would have helped it immensely. Either way, I was determined not to serve it with a creamy sauce what-so-ever. And I had to think about what Bender would want. He's not a potato dumpling fan, so much so that I avoided using the word dumpling at all costs with him. I didn't want him to think it was going to be like kloesse, German potato dumplings. 

So, I started reading gnocchi recipes. And more gnocchi recipes. I spoke with Tabitha about her gnocchi. And I came to one conclusion. I wasn't going to like them. And neither was Bender. Oh well. I was going to try it anyway. One of the key things I gathered from all my recipe reading was temperature. It's very important to work quickly to keep the potatoes warm. Some people even went so far as to say the dough should still be warm when it goes in the water.

With that in mind, I cleaned my kitchen super thoroughly and got everything ready/prepped for the entire meal when the potatoes were baking.

Roasted potatoes, ready for peeling. 

Potato Gnocchi

2 pounds Russet potatoes
1 cup flour
½ cup parmesan, grated
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Pour rock salt onto a baking tray and place potatoes on top. The salt will help to draw moisture out of the potatoes as well as ensure that they roast evenly. Cook potatoes for about 1 hour, flipping the potatoes over after half an hour. When a knife or skewer pierces through the center of a potato with little or no resistance, they are done. When the potatoes are nearly ready, place a large stockpot full of heavily salted water on the stove to boil. 

Peel the potatoes, and then pass them through a potato ricer, food mill or grate them over the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. Add the lightly beaten egg, parmesan, and the salt to the potatoes and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Add the flour to the potatoes a little at a time, using only as much as you need so that the dough will not stick to your hands. When the flour has been incorporated, bring the dough together with your fingertips.

Knead the dough a few times in the bowl. You need to do this both to ensure that the dough is mixed properly and that the flour forms some gluten strands, which will help our feathery gnocchi hold their shape. The dough should now be soft but just firm enough to hold its shape. Add more flour while you are kneading if necessary.

Prepare an ice bath. Fill a large bucket or bowl with ice and top up with water. You will shock the gnocchi in this bath to prevent them from over cooking.

Working in small batches, roll the dough out until it is a 3/4 inch thick "snake." Using a spatula or cutter, cut into 1 inch lengths. At this point you can gently roll the gnocchi into balls between your palms and then roll each one up the tines of a fork to create the classic gnocchi shape.

Transfer the gnocchi to the back of a floured baking tray and slide them into the boiling water. When the gnocchi rise to the top (about 20 seconds) set a timer for 1 minuet 30 seconds. When the timer goes off, remove the gnocchi using a slotted spoon or something similar and transfer to the ice bath. Continue rolling, blanching, and shocking, until all the dough is gone. Remove the gnocchi from the ice bath, let drain. Sprinkle with olive oil to prevent sticking and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve you can either blanch briefly in a boiling pot of water or do as One Hungry Chef loves to and saut̩ the gnocchi. This adds another texture to the airy dumpling Рa crisp, roasty shell. To do so, heat a pan on medium high heat. Add olive oil and then the gnocchi. Make sure your pan is hot as the gnocchi will stick otherwise, and remember not to try to cook too many at once; over crowding a pan will only make the temperature drop and all your gnocchi will stick. When the gnocchi have browned on one side, add a knob of butter, reduce the heat a bit, and flip, cooking until the gnocchi are evenly browned in the foaming butter. Remove from pan, draining away butter.

Gnocchi: rolled, cut, and ready for the pot

Grating a hot potato? Wow, my hand was not happy. Even with a kitchen towel to hold the potato! But, eventually, it worked out. I found it best to peel all the potatoes first, and then grate them in the order in which they were peeled. And use oven mitts or a towel to hold the potatoes!

It took me a good two hours to make the gnocchi, but I did manage to get the first batch into the boiling water while the dough was still warm. By the time I was on my last batch, however, the dough was room temperature. Cleanup was surprisingly easily considering the mess I made while making them.

Oh, and how did I serve it? With Smitten Kitchen's lovely Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions. Which will be covered in another post. It's oh so good.

Gnocchi with tomato sauce with butter and onions. 

Meh: 2 votes

To see what Tabitha thought of the Gnocchi, head on over to Double the Garlic!

Potato Gnocchi: blanched, shocked, and drained

1 comment:

  1. Very brave...I have never managed to get over the time-consuming nature of making my own gnocchi enough to actually make some!


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