Monday, September 23, 2013

Stupid Gnocchi

Gnocchi is something to be ordered, not made. I have made it a couple of times - potato, potato with spinach, and now sweet potato. The little writeup even talked about how adding sweet potato is a good trick for novices because taking away some regular potato would remove some of the gluey potential. Ha.

I have heard good gnocchi described as airy and light, as little clouds. Mine were like lead. Mine were the opposite of airy and light. Mine were a travesty. Oh, but we still ate them with sage and butter and Pecorino.

Sam was even excited at the prospect of dinner because he has had the gnocchi that I buy frozen from Trader Joe's. I sauté them in butter and melt a little cheese on them. He loves those gnocchi. Of these, however, he said, emphatically, "I don't like them." But I had worked so hard and was so angry that they didn't turn out well that I snarled at him to eat them or eat nothing and if he chose nothing he would most likely throw up in the morning from low blood sugar. So there.

I know that I went wrong in a couple of places. The sweet potatoes were perfectly roasted, but the yukons were not. Little, hard bits of potato in your gnocchi? No, thanks. I guess I also worked too much flour in, which would create toughness, but I just don't get how to not add so much. I have worked with many doughs in my day. With bread, I know the difference between "tacky" and too darned sticky. But these gnocchi were a mess and I kept adding and adding flour.

And don't even get me started with how difficult it is to roll the little guys off the back of a fork for the cute little tine impression. Mine were far from cute. And tough. Did I mention tough?

The one saving grace was that I further developed my browned butter sauce. If you have never done it, I highly recommend melting a few tablespoons of unsalted butter, letting it brown, throwing in sage, and then tossing your pasta in the pan too - gnocchi, cheese ravioli, even a plain pasta would be good.

But, do yourself a favor, and order gnocchi at a restaurant or purchase frozen for home.


  1. I am going to disagree. Mark Bittman has a great recipe in the NYTimes - they actually were light and airy - the kids were ecstatic! The Trade-off - time to bake the russets first. It takes about 90 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes.
    (Another "but" - He says you can freeze them. I froze them, and then tried to cook them resulting in mashed potato water.)
    Here's his recipe:

    1. I remembered something else. I had the same issue with cooking after freezing. What I found does work is if you do a combination of sautéing and steaming. So, heat butter and oil in a nonstick skillet, add your frozen gnocchi, let them brown a bit, then throw in a 1/4 cup of water, or more, depending on how much gnocchi you have in there, clamp a lid on and let them cook through on low. You have to fiddle with the timing, water, and all that, but it's better then throwing away your homemade gnocchi!

  2. Well, I am a glutton for punishment, and I believe in Bittman, so I will try his recipe. Thanks for the link. I bet baking is the key because flavor will be there and the meat will be dry and starchy. Sweet potato just isn't starchy in that way.