Our appetite for these soft, Italian pillows of pure decadence and luxury has no bounds. We grow our own miniature sage garden because of them, and we simply refer to sage as “gnocchi herb”. This is our best and easiest recipe for killer gnocchi!
There are a few key elements to the ultimate potato gnocchi:
- Use the right kind of potato
- Bake the potato, don’t boil it
- Use as little flour as possible
- Handle the dough as little as possible
With over 200 species of potatoes, you could easily end up with the wrong kind and a shit result with the texture of chewy glue balls.
The perfect potato is a quite large potato with high dry matter – starchy, not waxy.
Dry matter (DM) is the total solid contents minus water content. This consists of structural compounds, carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, nutrients, pigments, fats, and sugars.
In Norway, this would be Beate or Asterix. Elsewhere perhaps Idaho, Russet or Yukon Gold. If it’s good for mashed potatoes or fries, it’s likely good for gnocchi as well.
You want a good size on them since you’re gonna bake them. The reason for this is that the baking will draw out moisture, which means we need less flour, which means they’ll taste more – adding flour dulls flavor.
But baking will also cause the outer layers of the potato to be too dry to use in the gnocchi – and that’s how we invented our zero waste SMASH potatoes.
Ingredients (Main for 2 people, side/starter for 4)
- 1.5 kg potatoes, large and starchy
- 1 whole egg
- 50 g wheat flour, plus more to dust
- 50 g durum semolata flour
- 3 tbsp best quality olive oil, of the spicier variety
- 20 g fine sea salt
You will find other recipes with 2 or 3 or even 4 egg yolks, just as with pasta. Excuse my fucking French (no, not really), but unless you have a specific plan to use those four egg whites, they end up as discard, and that’s just fucking wasteful.
Do you REALLY think an Italian Nonna would allow such blatant disregard for perfectly good ingrediens? NO! This tiny, wrinkly 45 kg fierce creature would slap you harder than a grown man on steroids and tell you off!
So. One whole egg. Period.
Preheat your oven to 200C. Wash and gently scrub the potatoes. Using a sharp knife, make a lengthswise slit in each potato, rub them with a little bit of oil and put them on a baking sheet, slide them into the oven, set your timer to 60 minutes and kick back and relax with a glass of wine, do your taxes or something.
Test for tenderness after 60 minutes with a small pairing knife. If not tender, give them another 10 minutes.
Let cool until cool enough to handle. Use a spoon to dig out the meat, but be careful not to scrape the skin clean. The outer parts towards the skin will be too dry to pass through a sieve or potato ricer.
In addition, those leftover skins is for another epic meal – our SMASH potatoes with black beans and burnt leek dip.
You should be left with around 600-650 g potato meat. In this specific case, we started out with 1.5 kg potatoes, got 630 g potato meat and 450 potato skins, which means we evaporated 420 g water during the baking.
Use a potato ricer or pass through a fine sieve. Though the latter is a bit time consuming, it has a tremendous effect on the texture and mouthfeel, and so I do not at all recommend simply mashing the potatoes if you don’t have a ricer. And in case you don’t know already – using a blender for the potatoes turns them into fucking wallpaper glue, so don’t do that either.
Depending on how much water has evaporated, and how much scooped potatoes you have, you’ll need in between 80 and 100 grams of flour.
Spread your potatoes in an even layer on your bench, and dust 40 g wheat flour, 40 g semolata flour and the salt evenly all over the potatoes. Whisk your egg and pour the egg and the olive oil evenly over the potatoes.
Start gathering the dough using a bench scraper or your dominant hand. Use your other, clean hand for adding more flour if needed – you can quickly tell if this is too little. And remember – use as little flour as possible, and work the dough as little as possible.
When you have just gathered the dough, taste it. Does it need more salt? Or olive oil? Proceed to the next step when you’re happy with the seasoning.
Next step is to test cook one single gnocch…o? Form a single gnoccho and toss it into boiling water. Fish it out with a slotted spoon when it floats to the top. Taste it. Does it hold together nicely, or do you need more flour? When you’re happy, continue with next step.
Divide your dough into 10 dough balls. Put the dough balls on a well dusted bench. Take one ball, roll it between your hands, then move onto rolling it on the dusted bench until you have a 15 mm thick rope. Use the bench scraper to cut the rope into 20 mm long gnocchi.
If you are simply going to fry them with some herbs, then move onto next step. Otherwise, if you are going to use it in a tomato based sauce for example, now is the time to bring out your gnocchi board and give them their ridges to help hold onto the sauce.
Next, use your bench scraper to transport the gnocchi into the boiling pot of water. The gnocchi are cooked when they float up to the surface of the boiling pot. Lift them out using a slotted spoon, and onto a wire rack with drip tray underneath.
The simplest way of enjoying these exquisite potato pillows of pure happiness is to brown the gnocchis on medium high heat in 40 g butter and a handful whole sage leafs.