Saturday, November 16, 2013

Homemade Gnocchi

The grocery store where I shopped last time did not have gnocchi, but I wanted to use my full eMeals menu for the week, so last night decided to try making gnocchi myself. It looked labor-intensive, but fairly straight-forward.

1) Overbake potatoes on a layer of salt (this is so that the heat can get all the way around the potatoes.


2) Peel the potatoes. Literally every recipe I saw, whether it was for boiling or baking, included leaving the peel on until after the potatoes were cooked.


3) Shred or rice the potatoes. I used a cheese shredder (as recommended in one recipe) and think, in hindsight, that I need a ricer to do these correctly. Another recipe recommended using a fork and a light touch to shred the potatoes, leaving them still light and fluffy. I really think the cheese grater and using a fork means a high potential for "chunkage," which I feel is the enemy of good gnocchi.


4) Make a well in the potatoes and add your eggs and whatever else. In this case, it was nutmeg, garlic, and shredded Parmesan cheese.


5) Mix that with your hands.


6) Sprinkle 1/2 of a cup of flour over the mixture, and fold. Do not knead. Then keep adding flour until you have a dough.

7) Cut the dough into 4 to 8 pieces, rolling each piece into a 1/2 inch log. Then cut those pieces into gnocchi-sized chunks. 


8) Apparently the most difficult thing about gnocchi is learning how to form them. You don't "have" to do it right, or have ridges, but that's a point of pride and the ridges hold sauce better. I didn't feel too much pressure to form them because I knew I'd processed the potatoes less-than-ideally and they weren't going to look too nice, regardless. There are pages and pages and videos like crazy on YouTube about shaping gnocchi.

9) Let the gnocchi dry. I sat mine in the oven with the light on. It had mostly cooled after baking the potatoes, so it was just warm and really dry. One recipe recommended putting the tray in front of a fan for an hour.


10) Freeze or cook the gnocchi. You boil water and do them in batches. They spring to the surface when they're cooked, which takes only about a minute and a half.


I didn't take a picture of our finished meal, which was delicious, but was very saucy and not-photograph-conducive. They were passable, but it was a lot of work for the one meal. (I do have half of them, unformed, in the freezer.) I have made pasta from scratch, and it's SO much cheaper and it's so easy, I think it's well worth the effort. Gnocchi, maybe not so much. But if someone gave me a ricer, I'd absolutely try it at least one more time.

If you have some gnocchi sitting around and want to try something easy and delicious, here is the recipe we used, courtesy the eMeals Mediterranean Menu. If you haven't checked out eMeals, you should! It's fun and delicious!

GNOCCHI WITH WALNUTS AND BLEU CHEESE SAUCE

½ (17.5-oz) package potato gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; saute 30 seconds. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; cook 2 minutes or until slightly thick. Stir in blue cheese. Stir in pasta; spoon mixture into a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle pasta with Parmesan cheese and nuts; bake 20 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with parsley.

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