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Jan 26, 2008 04:26 PM

Gnocchi Help

I made gnochhi for the first time this week, however it doesn't look like the pictures or what I see in the grocery store.

Here is what I did....
baked 4 potatoes in the oven. Let them cool. Grated them with hand grater. Added a handful of flour and salt. Mixed it into a dough. Then made snakes, and cut them into approx 1-inch pieces. Put it in the fridge to set for about half an hour. Then I boiled them for about a minute to 90 seconds, till they floated on top.

My gnocchi were not smooth looking on the outside. They were sort of bumpy all around. Is this normal?

Did I put too much flour or not enough? What should i do differently?

Would like to give this another go.

Also, I know that some restaurants fry the gnocchi. How does this work? Boil, let dry, and then pan fry?

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  1. I think when they are pan fried, they've been boiled and dried ahead of time, as you suggest. I've only tried to make potato gnocchi a couple of times, and only once with any modicum of success - quite a while ago.

    Were you working from a particular recipe? I would think it would be better to rice the potatoes than to grate them. I think some recipes call for egg - though that may be controversial. Do you think maybe you didn't roll out your "snakes" smoothly enough? When I did them, I added the step of flicking them off the fork to make the ridges:

    How did they taste?

    1. I make gnocchi about once a month, because its an all day affair. First I use russet potatoes and bake them for an hour and a half.

      Go shopping.

      Let the potatoes cool a bit. Scoop them out and put through the food mill onto a baking sheet. Spread them out and let them cool.

      Go fold a load of laundry or something.

      Then I drizzle eggs over the potatoes and sprinkle flour over them. I use a bench scraper and fold and scrape and fold and scrape until I get a dough.

      I keep sprinkling flour and folding and scraping until I like it. I make the dough into a ball and keep the unused portion under a bowl while I work on small parts at a time.

      I roll a part of the dough into a long thin cylinder. I cut it into gnocchi pieces with the scraper. I put all of the gnocchi onto floured baking sheets, cover with foil, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

      More shopping, or laundry.

      When I cook the gnocchi, I just drop them into boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, until they rise to the surface. Drain, and ta-da - you have gnocchi.

      I make a bechamel sauce, mix the gnocchi with it, top with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, and bake for a while. Its good. For photos you can go here:

      4 Replies
      1. re: Linda513

        Hmmm....I don't have a ricer, a food mill, or a bench scraper (not sure what that even is).

        I just used a KitchenAid hand grater. Is that what could have been wrong?

        They tasted alright, maybe a bit floury. I have never had them boiled before so not sure how they should even taste to be honest.

        How would I roll out the "snakes" smoother? What does that mean?

        Do you have to knead the potatoe/flour dough for a long time? Any other ways to rice the gnocchi without any special machines?

        1. re: gtrekker2003

          This is a bench scraper:

          You can probably get something like it at home depot, it looks like a drywall tool. I think the purpose of using this instead of your hands is so that you don't overwork the dough. But if you are very gentle you can use your hands.

          I'm not sure what the kitchenaid hand grater is, but if it makes small unlumpy pieces of potato I'm sure it is perfect.

          Maybe yours turned out too floury because you didn't add eggs. I'm not sure if that is a traditional thing to do or not, but that is how I always do it.

          My dough is pretty smooth, so when I roll out the cylinders they are smooth on the outside. When I cut them they turn into pillow shaped things.

          I like the idea of flicking them off of the fork to make the ridges. I just don't know if I have the patience for that, especially after working on them all day, and the shopping and laundry, etc etc.

          But I think the appearance is secondary to the taste. If you liked them, then they are perfect! If they are a bit too floury try adding an egg or two and see how that works. If they are really ugly you can just bury them in a nice sauce and no one will notice. But I doubt they really looked that bad - we're all our own worst critics.

        2. re: Linda513

          Linda513, your recipe sounds and looks delicious!

          1. re: Linda513

            you cracked me up with your timing, as it reminds me of my mom's recipe for tebouleh (and her not so subtle encouragment)...It goes like this: Put bulgar in a bowl, cover with water, go to church, strain....

          2. Gnocchi can be a hard thing to have an exact recipe for; I go by a general rule of somewhere just below a cup of flour to 3 fist sized potatoes, and one egg. (I add enough salt to the mashed potatoes to make them taste good, then salt the water.) The important thing is, the feel of the dough. The dough should have just enough flour in it so that it is possible to roll out the "snakes". Also, try making the gnocchi about twice the width of the "post my reply" button and about the same length. You don't want them too big, because it is easier to overcook them. As soon as they float to the top, they are done. There should only be about 10 in the pot of rapidly boiling water at a time as well, because too many will bring down the temperature of the water. Have a colander lined with paper towels sitting over a bowl to scoop them into, before transferring them to a buttered dish that I warm, but then just keep by the stove. I reheat the gnocchi when they are all done by tossing them with the hot sauce.
            I steam my potatoes or even boil them in their skins (cut in half) and then when they are done,
            I dump out the water, and just let them sit in the bottom of the pan over a low flame for a few seconds until they dry out a bit. Peel and rice or if you don't have a ricer, lay them out on a sheet pan and smash with a fork really well. The trick is to cook the potatoes until they are tender. If the potatoes aren't cooked long enough, you can run into lumps. A floury potato is good, but I use yukon golds with great success. Be sure that the potato has been seasoned with salt and cooled to room temp before adding the egg. I make a well, and beat the egg right in the well. Then with my hand, incorporate the egg into the potato. Add about 3/4 cup of all purpose, sifted flour (just to be sure this isn't where your lumps are coming from) to start, using your hand to fold the flour into the potato, using just enough turns of your hand to incorporate; not beating or overworking. If the dough seems sticky, add a bit more flour. It should be smooth as a baby's bottom. Divide the dough into four pieces, and keep what you don't use under a towel. Lightly flour the board and roll out your snakes. Spill a little corn meal onto a sheet pan, and as your gnocchi are cut, transfer them to the sheet pan. Be sure they are in single layer without touching. They are best cooked right away. I love butter, garlic and fresh sage with a shower of parmigiano reggiano.
            I hope this works for you.

            6 Replies
            1. re: fayehess

              use flour sparingly, handle the dough sparingly, this will aid in a light fluffy gnocchi

              1. re: intrepid

                I think mine were too heavy. Does that mean I added too much flour? So, it is mostly potatoes?

                I used 4 potatoes and about a handful of flour.

                1. re: gtrekker2003

                  My handful would be about a 1/3 of a cup, so I'm thinking you may have not added quite enough flour. Was it possible to roll your dough out without it sticking? You want just enough flour so that it won't stick. Adding the egg (1 per 3 potatoes is about right) will definitely help with lightness, and you don't want to knead the dough. You basically just want to get it into a ball and then into the snakes. Handling it too much will make it tough.

                  1. re: fayehess

                    Hmmm....I was definitely able to roll out the dough without it sticking onto the counter at all. And the snakes were easy to make as well.

                    Do you add the whole egg or just the yolk or whites? Maybe I handled it too much as well.

                    Mine really were heavy as they just sort of sat in the tummy. I hate that feeling.

                    1. re: gtrekker2003

                      slightly beat the egg beforehand and then add it to the potato. It is really easy to handle the dough too much. This can make a big difference. Just use your hand, and be as gentle as possible, turning just enough so that the flour is absorbed, but no more. Then a really light dusting of flour on the board or table, and when you roll the snake, again, you are encouraging them out to each end with a slight pressure as you roll them, but touching them, almost as if they were super hot so as not to overhandle. This sounds nuts I know, but once you get it, you got it, and it is really worth it.

                  2. re: gtrekker2003

                    My proportions are 2.5 pounds of potatoes (I don't know how many that is, I always weigh), 2 eggs and 2 cups of flour.

              2. I have some of my Italian cookbooks out for something else, so thought I would just add notes here.

                The Silver Spoon:

                2.25 pounds potatoes (steamed 25 minutes/tender/mash w/ potato masher)
                1.75 cups all purpose flour
                1 egg lightly beaten

                Stir flour, egg and pinch of salt into potatoes and "knead to a soft elastic dough" - taking care about the potato/flour ratio - too much flour = too hard gnocchi, too much potato = falling apart in the water gnocchi.

                Marcella (Essentials):

                1.5 boiling potatoes (boil in skins, drain, pull off skins, puree in food mill)
                1.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour (add most to potatoes and "knead into a smooth mixture" ... "Stop adding flour when the mixture has become soft and smooth, but still slightly sticky."

                1. One thing I have experienced (and learned from as a result) is a constant, rapid boil will jostle them around far too much and you will end up with exactly what you've described. You can start with a good boil and then dump them in. Once they're all in, turn the heat down and simmer them gently. Keep it at a boil, but treat them gently. A slow boil is just as hot as a hard boil but quite obviously less violent.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: HaagenDazs

                    I actually baked the potatoes in the oven first so that they could be a bit drier. That's what the recipe book said at least.