Monday, January 18, 2016

Homemade Gnocchi

So I have tried Gnocchi once before and stopped when I realized that it was going to be a failure. Why was it going to be a failure - I didn't have a ricer. I waited for weeks and months for one to come on sale and then waited until the right time to attempt it again. With everything I've seen and read Gnocchi in concept shouldn't be that difficult but it requires a lot of technique to get them right. I figured that this Ramsay recipe couldn't lead me wrong.

I was half right and half wrong. In the end the Gnocchi were light and fluffy like little pillows (SO much better than store bought gnocchi). However, I don't think I had the right consistency or texture to the dough when they were being formed. I say this because they were still sticky when they went into the boiling water. I think this comes from the nature of Gnocchi - a mixture of cooking and baking skills. What do I mean by that? Well the mix for Gnocchi requires some science and precision (like baking) but it is also about instinct and feel.

In the end I would probably find a different recipe ONLY because i want something a little more exact for the ingredient amounts. I didn't have large russets - I only had some small ones of difference sizes - so I made and estimation which makes it difficult and I was very concerned about using too much or too little flour.  I used the back of a fork to make the marks on the back of the gnocchi rather than making a dimple.  The end result was still really good and yummy! So all in all not a totally failure and a fairly good job but not a complete success!

The thing - making sure the Gnocchi are dry before frying them - really important.

Homemade Gnocchi
2 large russet potatoes
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg beaten
1 thyme spring, leaves only
Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
For the sauce
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup peas
1 thyme spring, leaves only
Zest of 1 lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Bake the potatoes in their skins for 1 - 1 1/4 hours until tender all the way through. Remove the flesh from the skins (ideally while still warm) and mash until smooth - a potato ricer works best here. Mix in the ricotta, a pinch of seal salt and white pepper, and the flour. Make a well in the middle, add the beaten egg, and begin to combine the mixture with floured hands. Work in the thyme leaves and continue until a smooth dough has formed (be careful not to overwork it or the dough will end up too dense and won't expand when it goes into the water).
  3. Cut the dough in half and shape each piece into a long sugar shape about 1/2 inch thick. Using the back of the floured table knife, cut each length of dough into 3/4 inch pieces to make "pillows" or individual gnocchi. Gently press each one in the centre using your floured finger. The dent will hold more sauce and allow the gnocchi to take on more flavour. 
  4. Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, tilting the pan from side to side briefly to keep them from sticking together, then simmer for 1 1/2-2 minutes until they start to float. Drain the gnocchi and leave them to steam-dry for 1-2 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, start to make the sauce. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Add the gnocchi to the hot pan with a pinch of salt and black pepper and sauce for 1-2 minutes on each side until nicely coloured. 
  6. Add the peas to the pan with a chuck of butter and the thyme leaves. Toss to heat through, then add the lemon zest. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. 

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