I didn’t really appreciate gnocchi until I went on a cookery course and had it properly. Before then, I’d only ever had supermarket gnocchi which, in comparison to proper homemade stuff, is dense, dry, and severely lacking in flavour. Proper gnocchi is simply potato, egg, and flour. They are light and fluffy, and perfect with a number of toppings, or simply a drizzle of butter.
The only item I’d say you really need is a potato ricer, as it will make your life so much easier. At around £10-£20 (depending on how fancy you want to go), they are essential for making perfect gnocchi, and will also revolutionise you mashed potato. However, if you’re desperate to try this and don’t have a ricer, there are other inventive ways to do it: try grating your potato, or squishing it through a colander with a spoon (disclaimer: I haven’t tried these methods, they are alternatives I have found online). Essentially, you want to your potato to be as smooth, light, and airy as possible – in this case, simply mashing it won’t work, because you won’t have any air in your potato and it will still be relatively lumpy. Another useful tool (although not essential) is a dough scraper, as this helps you to scoop up as much of the mixture as possible.
A no-waste tip: don’t throw away the baked potato skins when making your gnocchi – see here for my crispy potato skins recipe.
Perfect Potato Gnocchi
This recipe makes enough for two people, and (excluding the time to bake the potatoes) takes around 15 minutes to prepare, with at least 1 hour 15 minutes for resting time. To make enough for four, simply double this recipe.
You will need:
- 450g potatoes, (approximately 2-3 medium potatoes) – you will need to bake these in the oven for about 1 hour until soft all the way through, then left to cool
- 50g ’00 pasta flour (plain flour is fine), plus extra for dusting the side
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- Salt and pepper
Begin by cutting your potatoes in half and scooping out the cooked potato. Put in the ricer and press down, letting the riced potato fall directly onto your (clean) work surface. Arrange the potato into a little mound, and create a well in the middle.
Pour the beaten egg into the middle (if you are using a large egg, don’t pour all of it in as it will make the mixture too wet), and sprinkle the flour around the outside. Season the pile with plenty of salt and pepper, then begin to bring the mixture together. It will be messy and sticky at first, but will begin to come together (you can use a dough scraper or spatula to help scrape off the surface), so don’t panic! If the dough is incredibly wet, sprinkle some more flour over and incorporate it into the dough.
Gently bring the mixture together, until you have a soft dough. It will still be a little sticky, but should hold together nicely. Dust your work surface and roll the dough into a long sausage. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to sit in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Once rested, remove the dough from the fridge and get a plate or baking tray ready by lining with baking paper. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and lay out your sausage-shaped dough. Begin cutting into thumb-sized pieces with a knife – you can leave them in these little squares, or you can roll a fork gently over them to get a more traditional-looking gnocchi. Lay each one out onto the tray as you go, and place in the fridge for at least one hour before cooking.
To cook, boil a large pan of salted water until it is bubbling nicely. Drop in your gnocchi and cook for around 2 minutes until they float to the surface of the water. Drain, and serve with a sauce of your choice.
You can make these a day or two in advance – just leave them in the fridge with some clingfilm over the top to stop them drying out too much. I love these with a little butter and flaky salt, but they are also great with a pasta sauce or pesto and lots of sautéed vegetables, or even with a nice rich casserole as an alternative to mashed potato or pasta.