October 8, 2012 by Tamika
This is not my grandparent’s gnocchi.
When I was little I made Gnocchi with my great-grandmother who was visiting from France, and my grandparents. Grandpa got out the big piece of plywood he used for dough, it covered the kitchen table. The board was coated into the grain with flour from all the bread, tarts and pasta that had been made over years. It’s a fond memory imprinted all the more from photos we have. I think I was bored rolling the dough on the tines of a fork, I’m sure I ran out to play, because what I remember next is heaped bowls of Gnocchi baked in sauce.
I have never found a packaged gnocchi I like. When I went gluten free, gnocchi was one of the first things I decided to ‘conquer’. I made a good GF flour/ starch blend and went at it. It was AWFUL. I put them in the freezer for ‘later’. Months later, I threw them out. There is nothing like abject food failure to humble me.
I offer up this recipe for GOOD gf Gnocchi. It’s not my grandparent’s. It’s all new. It’s simplistic and malleable, a good base for creativity. Pretty darn yummy, I taste-tested it with a bunch of serious foodies who are not gf.
I don’t roll the dough on the tines of a fork (need time for playing!) but you may try if you wish. My attempt made the gnocchi fall apart. ‘Gnocchi’ is a word that describes potato dumplings, not ‘cute little dumpling with fork marks’.
Traditional Gnocchi calls for white potatoes that are ‘dry’, what we know of as Idaho Potatoes here. I use Yukon Gold, I had them on hand when I first developed this, and I like how moist they are, it balances the dry gf flours and has a great taste.
3 lbs yukon gold or other creamy yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into equal size pieces
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
1cup brown rice flour
1cup fine white rice flour (plus extra for rolling dough)
1/2cup garbanzo bean flour or more if mixture is still too moist
1/2 cup finely chopped herbs, if desired (parsley, basil, sage, sorrel, oregano are all good)
Makes a few pounds, good for freezing.
Put a pot of cold, salted water on your stove. Place potatoes in, bring to a boil and cook until a fork can pierce them easily, careful not to over cook to mushy state. Drain potatoes, put them back into pot and place over low heat, tossing the chunks around, drying the excess moisture off them. When all the liquid is gone and they look a bit dry place potatoes in a big bowl and let cool to room temp.
Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Using a potato ricer ‘mash’ the cooled potatoes, making sure not to over mash, but to remove any chunks and get a consistent ‘grain’ to them. I use a nifty potato masher that has a ricer top.
Make a well in your potatoes and add the beaten eggs and dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon stir and fold all the ingredients as best you can. Dump the mixture out onto a rice-floured surface and need gently, to incorporate all the ingredients. Scoop them in to one mound and let rest for 20 minutes or more. Make a sauce or go read, do laundry.. Gf flours soak up moisture like a sponge, the gnocchi dough needs for this to happen before continuing, it helps gauge how much more flour is needed before rolling out the dough pieces.
Put a large pot of cold, salted water to boil. Using floured hands, gently scoop some dough and roll it into a snake about an inch in circumference. I find it easiest to do in small amounts and short lengths. The lighter your touch, the better the gnocchi. This is NOT traditional dough, not even traditional gnocchi dough! You may get square shapes instead of round snakes it’s okay, do your best, the first batch is a learning process (when all is done and eaten, it doesn’t matter, no one will remember the quirky shapes). If the dough seems too moist to roll into a snake, add a bit more chickpea flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to the bowl of gnocchi dough, mixing/ kneading it thoroughly and test another piece. As you’ve finished one length, set it aside and continue on to another until all the dough is rolled. (At this point you may freeze the gnocchi, or some of them, if you wish. Place in one layer on a baking sheet to freeze individually, when frozen pour them into a freezer bag or container).
Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut snakes into 1 inch pieces. At this point it’s traditional to roll the gnocchi on the times of a fork to make the famous shape..we’re skipping that. Don’t worry about all the ‘resting’ your dough is doing, I found it very helpful to the overall texture.
Have ready a big bowl of ice water in the sink. Cooling the gnocchi quickly keeps them from over cooking before you sauce and bake/ fry them.
Gently drop a couple of gnocchi into your lightly boiling water (there is a theme here). It’s best to use a ladle or small strainer to lower the gnocchi into the water. Bit’s of potato will boil off and float in the water. If the gnocchi bop to the top with out completely falling apart, they’re perfect! Let them cook a minute then scoop them up with a perforated spoon (or strainer) and place into ice water bath .. continue on with the rest of your gnocchi, cooking/ cooling a dozen at a time.
At this point you can prepare gnocchi any way you like. Traditional is baked with pasta sauce and cheeses until bubbling. I fried some of mine in olive oil, then tossed them with crispy browned leeks, browned butter and asiago cheese, sprinkled with fresh thyme..
* I have recently read that if gnocchi is going to be fried there is no need to boil them first, I’m curious to try this with gf gnocchi since the structure is not the same. If you do, let me know!