Although most people think potatoes when they think gnocchi, gnocchi can actually be any thick, soft pasta made from flour, semolina, eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs, potatoes or any combination thereof (many of these are not gluten free I know). The word gnoccho, where gnocchi is thought to be derived, means little lump. Not very enticing I know. Especially since gluten free gnocchi, when done well, are light, delicate and anything but lump-like.
Now, anyone can make gnocchi. Not everyone can make gnocchi well. Many, many things can go awry and you may have to make a few bad batches before you get the feel of the dough. How do you know if you have made bad gnocchi? The resulting "lump" is dense, rubbery, soggy or completely falls apart while boiling. Don't let this dissuade you. It just takes practice. There is a reason grandmas make the best everything - they have more practice! Just channel your inner nonna and get cookin'. Use our recipe is you need to!
1. Pick the Perfect Potato
This is actually harder than it seems since I have never seen a consensus from any cookbook, website, food magazine, chef, etc. What everyone agrees on is you want a somewhat starchy versus waxy potato. Russet or Idaho? Some sing their praises as the perfect mealy, high-starch potato while others condemn them for those exact qualities. Yukon Gold you ask? Many people think too waxy while others say the flavor is perfectly nutty and most closely resembles the boiling potatoes used in Italy. So what do I do? A blend of both, but you can pick your favorite.
2. Bake Don't Boil
Regardless of the variety of potato, it is essential to keep the flesh as dry as possible while cooking. So why boil when you can bake? I bake my potatoes on a bed of salt. It create a very dry, fluffy interior and an intense potato flavor. Do a little double duty and throw a whole head of garlic in as well. That roasted garlic can become the base of your sauce!
3. Play Hot Potato
Yes, you must rice the cooked potatoes while they are hot. Use a fine potato ricer to create tiny little crumbles. Avoid mashers and food mills, which compress the potatoes and make them dense and gluey.
4. Gluten Free Makes Better Gnocchi
One of the reasons people make dense, tough gnocchi is due to the protein content and gluten in traditional flour. We gluten free folks are in luck. Although you still need a gentle hand, our Cheatin' Wheat Gluten Free Flour Blend makes very tender gnocchi.
5. Weigh It Again Sam
If you need one pound of cooked, riced potatoes, start with approximately two pounds. Before continuing to make gnocchi, weigh the potatoes again after you've baked and riced them, not before. Chances are you have lost about half the initial weight.
6. Egg-spect Some Controversy
Adding an egg to gnocchi is quite controversial - right up there with "Can you wear white after Labor Day?" The addition of an egg will make the dough less delicate. This is great in terms of workability and can be bad in terms of eatability. I say, make the dough with the egg the first few times until you get familiar with the process. Then try making them without.