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May 6, 2009 08:37 AM

Gnocchi-what went wrong?

Tried making gnocchi for the first time this weekend. Came out mushy and grainy--basically inedible. I followed what seems to be the standard recipe. Boil potatoes skin on, peel, push potatoes through ricer, add egg and enough flour to bind, roll out and boil.

A couple of thoughs of where I went wrong. I boiled the potatoes for too long. The skins had cracked by the time I took it out. I used the wrong potatoes--used plain old Russets. Didn't use enough flour. I had two and half pounds of potatoes. I measured out a cup and a half of flour and used just a cup. I was folllowing a video on Chow that said just use enough until the potatoes and flour bind together into a ball but in hindsight I may not have used enough.

Any thoughts/advice would be much appreciated.

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  1. Sounds to me like your own detective work is on. Overcooked potatoes really can't be salvaged. Nothing wrong with Russets, though, as their mealier texture works very well.

    If you don't add enough flour, you don't develop the gluten enough to give them the right spring. The line between soft yet springy and dense or tough is a really fine one in gnocchi. Very experienced cooks have their own off batches, so you have nothing to worry about on your first try going a bit wrong.

    1. #1 I would never boil potatoes for gnocchi. Waaay too much moisture is added into the final product and the potato flavor is watered down. Every time I have made gnocchi, I've always baked my potatoes. It takes longer, but the end result is FAR superior.

      Because you boiled your potatoes you will need more flour than with baking, so your guess of "not enough flour" is probably correct. It's hard to say precisely that you didn't use enough because conditions can change so much depending on moisture content of the air, flour, and potatoes.

      Aside from that you did use the right kind of potatoes. Idaho/russets are the best for this.

      A common problem for first-timer's is too hard a boil. These things are fairly delicate and a hard, rolling boil will bounce them around rip up the outside especially when your flour content is too low.

      Next time BAKE and your results will be so different you will be amazed!

      1 Reply
      1. re: SQHD

        I'm with SQHD on the baking thing, though I cheat and nuke the russets for 10-12 minutes, till soft. (don't forget to "fork" them or they can me) I think when you boil spuds in their jackets, the center takes way-y-y longer to cook than the outside resulting in unevenly cooked pots. Baking or nuking dries and cooks @ the same time, and the drier your spuds are, the better the end result. In italy, they typically use their oldest, most dried out spuds to make gnocchi. That said, I've still f*cked up the occasional batch; they can be fussy @ times, but when they cooperate...yum! adam

      2. Did you knead the dough for 5 minutes or so? Sounds like you didn't have enough flour but also you should knead it for a bit to develop the gluten to give the gnocchi some "tooth." The first I made gnocchi, I used Hazan's recipe which didn't specify to knead the dough. I didn't knead it at all (just combined until uniform) and I found the end product mushy. I found a Batali recipe which said to knead it for 5 mintues and found it to be perfectly toothsome but still tender and not chewy.

        Baking the potatoes is an interesting idea that I will have to try. You can also put the riced potatoes on the burner for 30 seconds or so, stirring it lightly, to dry out the potatoes a little. I usually do this; the one time I didn't, the potatoes were too wet and I ended up adding a lot more flour than usual.

        1. My base ratio for gnocchi is:

          1# potato
          1 C flour (half for the board, half sprinkled on the riced potato)
          1 egg (large)
          1 T olive oil
          1 T salt

          I prefer to use yukon golds for my gnocchi. I peel, then boil, then rice (or foodmill) the potatoes. Put half the flour onto the board and make a mound of potatoes with a well in the center. Sprinkle with other half of flour, put egg, olive oil, salt in the well. Begin pulling fingers through potato and egg/oil mixture and just start combing til it comes together. Knead a few times until it is well combined.

          They have a nice lightness to them, and with the ratio, you can make your own changes to get them where you want. 1,1,1,1,1 is pretty easy to remember =)