Monday, April 29, 2013

Homemade Gnocchi

Every time I store a container of mashed potatoes in the refrigerator after Sunday dinner, I know I’m sending it to it’s death.  There are relatively few things to incorporate leftover potatoes into that get me excited.  This recipe is one that makes me look forward to hanging onto the leftovers so I have enough.

A few weeks ago, I posted the recipe for Roast Chicken Gnocchi Soup.  Since I was relatively unfamiliar with what gnocchi actually IS - I picked up a package in the pasta section at the store and used it.  It was acceptable, but not quite how I remembered the fluffy texture of the gnocchi at Olive Garden.

The use of potatoes is a recent innovation in making gnocchi - only since the 16th century when potatoes were introduced in Europe.  Leftover potatoes are great to use in Shepherd’s Pie and in Potato Rolls - but I’ve never ventured into Pierogies, Croquettes, etc...  When I learned you could use them to make your own Gnocchi - I was excited to try.  

I store my leftover mashed potatoes in baggies in my refrigerator...
Saves on space, (and I can send a bag with my college kids when they leave to go back)

There are a few tricks that certainly help.  One is to use CHILLED leftover potatoes.  Chilled potatoes use less flour - making them more fluffy when boiled.  Since cold mashed potatoes are not exactly easy to press into a measuring cup - you might try measuring them while they are still slightly warm into 2 cup portions before you refrigerate them.

Notice the pale yellow color of the potatoes?
That is how they look with the addition of an egg yolk.

Next - do not add ALL the flour at once.  Just like bread, use the smallest amount possible while still using enough to keep the dough from sticking excessively.  Gnocchi dough can be kneaded like bread dough - which gives it a smooth texture.

This dough is SUCH fun to play with.
I had to restrain myself and actually MAKE gnocchi with it.

Last - you can use a fork to press lines in the cut dough, but it’s so easy to do a little “thumb roll” down the tines of a fork to make the gnocchi have a hollow middle.  I thought it looked hard, but once I tried it - it was really fun.  I could picture doing this with my grandkids - almost like playdough.  

The easy way to shape & form gnocchi - press with the tines of a fork.

It works... but the next method is so much more satisfying.

Roll into a ball.

Press & lightly roll down the tines of your fork.

Makes a hollow little dumpling.  

Finally - use the formed gnocchi as soon as possible after making it.  Do not store it at room temperature (which I did - and it turned an unsightly “grey” color) - if you have to delay cooking it, be sure to cover it in the refrigerator.  Fresh is best.

For this (fun) method of making your own gnocchi that will RIVAL Olive Garden's - go to:

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