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Crunchboy

Perfecting Gnocchi

127 posts in this topic

how about some potato pancakes?great accompaniment to many meals and lends itself well to a number of varied cooking styles.Just a thought\

                                            Dave s

Yes, that would work out much better.

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it's a matter of degree. if you overwork the dough, the gnocchi will be tough and heavy, certainly. but if you don't develop any gluten at all, what is to hold the gnoccho together? (oh sure, you could cheat and add egg ...)

If I am not mistaken, there is a certain amount of interlinkage that happens automatically when water and gluten are mixed. And, needless to say, there is a certain amount of gluten development that happens as the ingredients are incorporated and as the dough is rolled out, etc. I've never found that it wanted any more working than that. Certainly not ultra-minimal as one might do with a pastry dough, but not really anything I would call "kneading."

and i don't have an oed in front of me, but i believe knead and knuckle both come from the same root.

Hmm... Maybe, although I am a little dubious about infusing modern-day words with meanings according to their ancient origins.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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[This is very odd.  I've never heard that one wants to develop the gluten when making gnocchi.  In fact, I have always proceeded with exactly the opposite assumption: that one should work the dough as little as possible in order to avoid developing the gluten.

I've also always heard that the word gnocco, which most sources seem to agree is of relatively recent, late 19th century provenance -- can probably be traced back to Middle High German, perhaps knöchel (knuckle), and comes most directly from the Italian (Veneziano dialect?) word nocchio meaning "a knot in wood."

it's a matter of degree. if you overwork the dough, the gnocchi will be tough and heavy, certainly. but if you don't develop any gluten at all, what is to hold the gnoccho together? (oh sure, you could cheat and add egg ...)

and i don't have an oed in front of me, but i believe knead and knuckle both come from the same root.

I think Russ is right, although I'd imagine the gluten comes from the flour added to the gnocchi dough. You want something to keep those starch granules together. The butter and cream, apart inhibiting gluten development, might have already added too much humidity to the potatoes for the gnocchi to come out right.

When I have left over mash potatoes I often prepare some duchesse potatoes, by adding two yolks to every pound of potatoes, and maybe a bit of cream if the mash is too stiff. They freeze nicely once baked, so you can save them for later.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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In agreement with the idea that leftover mashed potatoes won't be the best thing to try gnocchi with...particularly for a first effort.

Imagine...the difference between fresh hot mashed potatoes (which even to hold briefly for any quality at all must be topped off with milk and maintained at a certain temperature) and mashed potatoes which have sat in the fridge.

They flatten and become heavy. Dense. And even the flavor changes slightly.

There really are so many other great things you can make from them...as others have mentioned, a sort of fritter or a duchesse or a pancake or mixed with baccala or even regular poached cod to make a lovely fresh fish cake....

Gnocchi are lovely things....but there is some sort of texture thing that is integral to gnocchi that I do not believe you will get from using potatoes, pre-cooked, as the base for them.


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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I'm no gnocchi guru, but would like to point out the (perhaps unintentional) pun in the subtitle of this thread. I have been chuckling every time I see it come up in Active Topics :biggrin:

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But potatoes don't have gluten.  gluten is the protein found in cereal grains like wheat, barley and oats, among others.  the reason why you get gummy potatoes if you overbeat them and break the cell walls, releasing starch that gums up the works. 

damn this not having an editor present! of course that's right. it's even in my damned book. actually, i think there is still some disagreement about what is happening ... could be pectin chains, could be something else.

nonetheless, the presence of fat would interfere with the linkages. and boy, do i love pommes duchesse.

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And please do forgive my rather unscientific explanation. Cooking is like sex to me. I can tell you how to do it (hopefully :laugh: ) well from my own personal experience.

The art and action of cookery should be a visceral, live experience rather than a science class.. but that is just my way of things. :wink: Others may live differently. :biggrin:

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it's a matter of degree. if you overwork the dough, the gnocchi will be tough and heavy, certainly. but if you don't develop any gluten at all, what is to hold the gnoccho together? (oh sure, you could cheat and add egg ...)

If I am not mistaken, there is a certain amount of interlinkage that happens automatically when water and gluten are mixed. And, needless to say, there is a certain amount of gluten development that happens as the ingredients are incorporated and as the dough is rolled out, etc. I've never found that it wanted any more working than that. Certainly not ultra-minimal as one might do with a pastry dough, but not really anything I would call "kneading."

i did a story on making potato gnocchi several years ago and spent a week trying to perfect them. indeed it was the kneading that made the difference (granted, i was determined to make them without eggs ... exigente all the way!). it's a very tricky thing, recognizing when the dough has been kneaded just enough that it will hold together, but not so much that it toughens and becomes leaden. but "knead" it was--forming a dough and pushing/rolling it against the work surface. only a minute or so, and with just the right touch.

Just for the record, here's the procedure: boil baking potatoes in their skins just until tender. Drain them and as soon as it is physically possible, peel them. Press them through a ricer onto a wooden board and let them steam. Sprinkle with flour and gather into a rough, very shaggy mass. knead until they come together smooth. break off a chunk and roll it in a rope. cut in sections and shape them against a fork.

does that fit with your notion albert?

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Perogies? With cheddar cheese and mashed potatoes?


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Just for the record, here's the procedure: boil baking potatoes in their skins just until tender. Drain them and as soon as it is physically possible, peel them. Press them through a ricer onto a wooden board and let them steam. Sprinkle with flour and gather into a rough, very shaggy mass. knead until they come together smooth. break off a chunk and roll it in a rope. cut in sections and shape them against a fork.

does that fit with your notion albert?

Perfetto! I couldn't have put it better myself, especially the missing egg part :wink:. The only difference in my method is that I use a gnocchi board to shape them, but that's just my kitchen gadget mania.

I have a question about potatoes: I found, sometimes with semi-disastrous results, that the definition of baking potato could mean quite different things in different countries. In Italy you would look for white, old potatoes to make gnocchi. Is that the same you'd use?


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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I have a question about potatoes: I found, sometimes with semi-disastrous results, that the definition of baking potato could mean quite different things in different countries. In Italy you would look for white, old potatoes to make gnocchi. Is that the same you'd use?

i use baking potatoes. the italian books i use seem to agree on "patate piu vecchie e farinose" (sp? gr? tr?). so to get the flouriest potatoes possible, I use russets. i have never seen them in italy, though, just the smooth-skinned. but i have to confess, potato shopping is not a big item on my trip to italy list.

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In agreement with Marcella Hazan --but In disagreement with, e.g., Lidia Bastianich -- I recommend a viable remedy to achieve a dough with the proper density is to use neither baking nor new potatoes: Put your smart money on old boiling potatoes. Resist adding eggs to the dough, as they will cause the gnocchi to become heavy and course-textured. After all, the goal is to produce gnocchi that are light & soft.

Moreover, please do not underestimate the value of knowing the comparative uses of different potato varieties: For mashed and/or creamed potatoes, many chefs prefer to use either russet or Yukon Gold. Yet, for some tastes, russets are too mealy in texture. The latter variety, though, has a good amount of waxiness for mashing up. I’ve also had good results using Maine potatoes, notably Kennebecs. Try Green Mountain potatoes, too – if you can find them.

On the other hand, because of low-moisture content, baking potatoes (such as Russet Burbank, Norgold Russet, and Shepody) are ideal for latkes.

Also, I concur with Russ's comment, above -- viz., potatoes do not contain gluten. (Starch, yes, but not gluten.) People on gluten-free dietary constraints thus eat baked goods made with, among other types, potato flour.


Edited by Redsugar (log)

"Dinner is theater. Ah, but dessert is the fireworks!" ~ Paul Bocuse

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I make fadge (potato pancakes) with my leftover mashed potatoes: Rub in enough flour (and a little baking powder) that the potatoes are roll-out-able, then roll them out into 1/6-inch thick circles about 7 inches in diameter. cut into farls (wedges), then cook on a lightly buttered griddle, turning once, till both sides are browned.

To make apple fadge, roll out two circles of dough, cover one with thinly-sliced apple, stick on the other, and bake the entire sandwich-circle on the griddle at a lower heat than you would have for the plain fadge.

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<snip>

When I have left over mash potatoes I often prepare some duchesse potatoes, by adding two yolks to every pound of potatoes, and maybe a bit of cream if the mash is too stiff. They freeze nicely once baked, so you can save them for later.

Based on a very bad experience at school, duchesse potatoes can kiss my ass. But it is a good suggestion.

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I have a question about potatoes: I found, sometimes with semi-disastrous results, that the definition of baking potato could mean quite different things in different countries. In Italy you would look for white, old potatoes to make gnocchi. Is that the same you'd use?

The reason why they way you want to use white, old potatoes, specifically old potatoes is that potatoes convert the sucrose in the potato into starch as they age. You want a starchier (or "floury") potato for gnocchi.


I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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I'm making gnocchi for a dinner party this weekend and wanted to know if others have had success/problems with making the gnocchi in advance?

Is it better to roll and cut the day before and then boil and saute the day of, or roll and boil the day before and then just saute the day of?

Also, I would like to make either a sweet potato gnocchi or a butternut squash gnocchi. I've made the sweet potato before. When making butternut squash I've heard the puree needs to drain after roasting - any experience here?

Thanks.

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Gnocchi freezes BEAUTIFULLY. Just freeze them on a baking sheet. Once fully frozen, place them in a zip loc baggie. Then, they can go into boiling water straight from the freezer. Easy, peasy lemon squeezy.

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Yep, they do freeze quite well after you roll and cut them. I know some recipes direct you to give them an inintial boil, but I never do.

Gnocchi made with squash are indeed pretty wet. Having now done both, I prefer sweet potato gnocchi. Not as much of a production and they hold their flavor well.

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Made Butternut squash ones before. Great taste but water was an issue. I divided the ingredints into 2 batches, just to be safe. The first batch not drained sucked up huge amounts of flour and the results were they were a bit chewy. I would not serve them.

The second batch I drained they came out much better. I served them with brown butter, sage and peas.


Edited by handmc (log)

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Did you roast the squash? Or boil? Pan cook? I'm curious if roasting might help with the water problem.

-Linda

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I roasted mine when I made 'em and they sucked up huge amounts of flour to get them to come together.

Thanks for all the replies.

The recipe called for 2 1/2 cups of flour. I would not be suprised if I used double that...I wish I saw your note about the sweet potato gnocchi.

I did a test batch last night before freezing the rest. Chewier then the sweet potato ones a made last time but good flavor (roasted garlic gloves, sage, salt, white pepper, dried oregano) so I'm going forward.

I'll try to report back.

Thanks.

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Please help me, guys - I am going crazy!!! I feel like I have read everything ever written about gnocchi, yet I just can't get it right!! Every time I make it, the same thing happens. The gnocchi practically dissolve in the water! The few semi-solid ones which I manage to rescue inevitably turn to mush when I attempt to mix in the sauce.

I tried again tonight with the same result. I used one and a half potatoes, mashed, with about six tablespoons of flour. They looked so pretty shaped and formed and waiting to go into the pan. I cooked the first batch for about a minute, and they all dissolved completely. I took the second batch out as soon as they rose to the surface of the water, which was after about five seconds. Those were better, but still mushy!!

Help!!!

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You're obviously dedicated to creating great gnocchi, so perhaps set an afternoon aside and try this:

Set a pot of water to boil, and make your dough however you normally would. Cut off a little bit of the dough and shape it (one gnoccho worth), then put that in the water and see how it goes. Too delicate? Incorporate a bit more flour into the next pinch of dough. Too dense? Add a very small bit of water or milk. Make these changes only to the bits you pinch off, or you'll find that by the 5th modification you'll have overworked your original dough to the point where it's useless.

Keep doing this and noting the feel of the dough each time. Note how damp it is on the outside, and how sturdy it is when you're shaping it. As russ said, it's a lot like making pastry in that you go by feel. When I make gnocchi I still roughly weigh out the flour depending on the amount of potatoes I have but it's just a guide: if it doesn't feel right I'll go by that.

Some general considerations in technique that can affect the finished product:

- Baking the potatoes has always worked for me. If I'm making gnocchi on a weeknight and want to speed up the process, I zap the potatoes in the microwave for 8 minutes and then put them in the over to speed up the process. Since there's no added moisture, in theory it should reduce the overall flour requirements.

- I use a potato ricer, with holes that are about 0.75 mm diameter. When I use a potato masher, I find I have to overwork the potatoes in order to ensure I've evenly broken them all up. That equals gluey potatoes.

- Spread the riced potato on your bench in a fairly thin layer. That way when you sprinkle your flour, salt, and egg, it'll require less work to evenly combine.

- Make your dough when the potatoes are still hot.

- Don't overwork the dough! If you overwork a perfect dough, it'll become sticky and you'll have to add more flour. Work to combine the ingredients, but no more.\

- Once you've make the gnocchi, freeze them or use them. Don't leave them sitting there on the bench while you boil the water and make the sauce.

And finally, here's my rough recipe for gnocchi (1 person's large portion or 2 people's normal-sized meal):

- 2 large floury potatoes, baked skin-on until they're completely tender inside (I've tried all the varieties on offer here and find Sebagoes the best).

- All-purpose flour. After the potatoes are baked, I weigh them, divide that by 4, and that's how much flour I weigh out. So 250g flour for 1kg of baked potatoes. I never use more than this amount of flour, and most of the time it takes about 80% of that flour before I'm happy with the dough's consistency.

- 1 egg, whisked to combine. For this amount of potatoes I'd only use about 1/2 to 3/4 of the whisked egg mixture. I used to not use egg, but I find that with egg it's much easier to achieve a texture that is slightly firm to the bite (and importantly, doesn't fall apart when mixing with the sauce), but still melts in the mouth.

- Salt. I don't measure this, just use as much as you'd use to season the potatoes as if you were going to eat them straight.

Scoop out the potato flesh and rice it onto a bench. Evenly salt the riced potato. As evenly as you can, distribute the whisked egg over the potatoes. Evenly sprinkle about 60-70% of the flour over the potatoes. From the outside in, push it all together and start working it to combine. It'll be a mess at first of parts that are too dry and parts that are too wet, but eventually it'll come together. Dust as much as you like of the remaining flour over the dough when it becomes a bit sticky. The final dough should be slightly damp but not sticky. If in doubt, for the first few tries err towards a drier dough than a damper one. Sure they might be a bit heavy, but it's better than gnocchi soup. If you've used all your weighed-out flour and it's still sticky, you're probably overworking the dough.

When this is ready, cut the dough into three even parts and roll them out to long tubes, about the thickness you'd like your final gnocchi. It'll become a bit more sticky so feel free to dust with flour to make it more manageable. Chop these into gnocchi-sized pieces, shape, and boil until they rise.

This has become ridiculously long, but I hope it helps you!

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