Culinary School: How to Make Gnocchi

A few weeks ago I asked you guys if you would be interested in posts revolved around what I’m learning in culinary school. Pretty much everyone who responded said yes! So I figured I’d start with a dish we learned to create from my favorite cuisine – Italian. Italian food is comfort food at its best – simple, fresh, rustic. It’s not as intimidating as French cuisine but just as tasty.

In case you were wondering, gnocchi are Italian potato dumplings. They taste good with just about any type of sauce, whether it be thick tomato or simple browned butter sauce. They are that kind of warm, stick-to-your-ribs meal that leaves you feeling satisfied. They’re available pre-packaged in the frozen section of some grocery stores but are SO much better homemade. They’re also surprisingly easy.

 Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Boil for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender enough that a fork or knife enters with no resistance. Drain and let cool slightly (at this point you can play Hot Potato!).

Remove the skin using whatever works – your fingers, a knife, a spoon, a towel. Just get those skins off and throw them away.

Now comes one (out of two) important parts of the recipe, mashing the potatoes. I LOVE to use a ricer because it’s easy and produces perfectly soft and light mashed potatoes with no lumps. If you don’t have a ricer, go buy one. Seriously. If for some reason you can’t get your hands on a ricer, go ahead and use a food mill, or even a potato masher – the gnocchi might be a little more dense but it will still taste fabulous. **A reader offered a fabulous tip, use a box grater to “mash” the cooked potatoes for a light, fluffy constancy.

Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. When I say to taste, I mean that literally. Taste the seasoned potatoes to make sure they’re good. Use more salt than you think. Mix in the egg.

Now comes the second important part of the recipe. Add JUST enough flour to form a smooth, slightly sticky, workable ball of dough. Add the flour a 1/4 cup at a time and stop when the dough begins to look cohesive. If you add too much dough, the gnocchi will become dense. Just remember that you can always add more but you can’t take it back once it’s added. Form the dough into a ball and place on a generously floured work surface.

Using a bench scraper, cut off a portion of dough.

Use your hands to roll out the dough into a long 1-inch thick rope. With the bench scraper cut the rope into individual gnocchi. The gnocchi don’t have to be perfect, this is suppose to be a rustic, homemade food. Just make sure they’re all roughly the same size so they cook evenly.

Use the back of a fork to create a ridged pattern on the gnocchi. Again, doesn’t have to be perfect!

 Yay gnocchi!! At this point if you wanted to do yourself a favor and save these for later, go ahead and stick the entire sheet pan of gnocchi in the freezer until they are frozen firm. Remove the gnocchi to an air-tight container and freeze for up to 2 months.

Gnocchi
Serves 6-8

  • 3 russet (baking) potatoes
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch nutmeg
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 cups all-purpose flour

Place the whole potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until a fork or knife enters will no resistance; about 30 minutes. Alternatively, bake the whole potatoes in a 400 degree F oven for about 40 minutes, until tender. Drain and let sit until cool enough to handle. Using your fingers, a paper towel, or a spoon, peel off skin and discard.

With a ricer or food mill mash the potatoes into a large bowl. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the egg. Add the flour about a 1/4 cup at a time just until the mixture comes together in a smooth, slightly sticky, pliable dough ball. Use only as much flour as your need so the gnocchi remain light instead of dense.

Remove dough ball to a generously floured work surface and knead a few times if necessary. Using a bench scraper, remove a large chunk of dough. Roll the piece of dough into a long rope about 1-inch wide. Use the bench scraper to cut the individual gnocchi. Roll the gnocchi off the back of a fork to indent. Repeat with remaining dough.

At this point you can freeze the gnocchi by laying it in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, not touching each other, and placing in the freezer until hard. Place frozen gnocchi in a sealed container or bag and freeze for 1-2 months. Do not thaw frozen gnocchi before cooking.

When ready to cook, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add gnocchi and cook for about 4 minutes if fresh, about 6-7 minutes if frozen. Generally once the gnocchi have risen to the top of the boiling water they need to cook for 2 minutes longer then they are done. Use a spider, skimmer, or slotted spoon and serve as desired. Be gentle as the gnocchi are very delicate and will fall apart easily.

   

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29 Responses to “Culinary School: How to Make Gnocchi”

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    1
    Courtney — October 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Love it. I've never made homemade gnocchi – thanks for sharing :)

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    Linds@TheLeanGrnBean — October 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    great post! i can't wait to start making my own!

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    soniarumzi — October 1, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I never even knew what it was made of. I knew potatoes but never knew the details. This is amazing Tessie. Love it! Thank you.

    Forgot to mention: love the ricer! Wow!

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    Christine — October 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I still have homemade gnocchi on my “Must Make Soon” list. I so want to try it, I just haven't made enough effort to buy a ricer.

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    Raphaelle — October 1, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    A tip on the potatoes: box graters are an excellent replacement for ricers. I've made incredibly pillowy gnocchi by grating my potatoes.

    • handleheat replied: — October 2nd, 2011 @ 4:56 am

      Raphaelle – What a fantastic tip! Thanks. I'll edit the post to add it :)

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    Lauren — October 2, 2011 at 1:47 am

    This is an awesome post! I love gnocchi, but have never even thought about making it from scratch. Your tutorial makes it seem do-able. Thanks for this, I'll definitely be trying it out soon.

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    kokostanley — October 2, 2011 at 5:30 am

    YUM! Can't wait to try it!

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    Denise @ TLT — October 2, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I love those light, little pillows of gnocchi.

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    Tracey — October 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Great tutorial Tessa! I tried to make gnocchi when I was first learning to cook and it was a giant disaster. Definitely time for me to try again I think :)

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    Sydney — October 3, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I. Love. Gnocchi.

    I know what I'm doing this week!

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    Caroline — October 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    That looks so delicious! I love finding a food that's so enjoyable to make that you can zen out while doing it. Definitely giving these a try soon!

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    spiffycookie — October 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I've only made gnocchi once and it was a long time ago. Thanks for the post!

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    JenSchall — October 6, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Yum! Gnocchi is one of my new favorites, but mine never turn out quite right. Will definitely follow your recipe next time!

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    Julia — October 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Amazing picture tutorial! Can't wait to see what else you learn in culinary school :)

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    Ann — October 8, 2011 at 6:28 am

    I have been making potato dumplings for more than 50 years. My Family loves them. Especially when there is gravy from roasted meat. Each nationality have their own name.

    each

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    Shaina — October 9, 2011 at 3:04 am

    These were amazing! And I have 109 leftover gnocchi… Hooray for bulk cooking!

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    Melanie — October 10, 2011 at 3:14 am

    How many pounds of gnocchi would this make?

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    Carolyn Murphy — October 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Nice! I've always wanted to learn how to make these. I've linked my readers to this page so you can show 'em how it's done.

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    Carolyn Murphy — October 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    blog.zipongo.com

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    Ann — October 25, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Last week I made gnocchi. I followed the receipe exactly. They came out wonderful. We had some for dinner and rest I froze. I took one batch out for another dinner. I put them in boiling water and they flattened out to mush.
    What happened to them.? What did I do wrong???

    • handleheat replied: — October 25th, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

      Ann – did you put them in the water frozen? If not, that might have been the problem. Perhaps you cooked them too long? Or maybe the water was boiling to hard? Place the frozen gnocchi straight from the freezer into a pot of water that's at a rolling boil. Once the gnocchi have floated to the top of the water cook for another minute then carefully remove from pot.

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    50+ and on the Run — November 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    This makes it seem pretty easy–I love gnocchi, but haven't ever tried them homemade, but I will now! Thanks.

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    Trisha — December 31, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Are they easier to cook when frozen?

    • handleheat replied: — January 2nd, 2012 @ 3:12 am

      You don't have to be as gentle with the frozen gnocchi but otherwise it's pretty much the same!

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    Lauren — January 2, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Hi Tessa! I made gnocchi for the first time tonight and they came out horribly! It was a mushy mess. I think I was being too cautious about my amount of flour so that they didn't come out too dense. Any other suggestions?

    • handleheat replied: — January 2nd, 2012 @ 3:15 am

      I'm sorry to hear that! It sounds like you might have over-cooked them in the water? Also, be sure your water isn't boiling like crazy – a rolling boil is usually best. Maybe you were a little too light-handed with the flour also. Hope you have better luck next time.

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    Carole P — January 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    An Italian told me years ago a secret for consistant gnocchi's is to bake the russett potatoes not boil. IThe reason being, all potatoes have different water content depending on watering etc. Given that, by baking the potatoes and shredding, the potatoes will come out more uniform with the water content.I think this is why Lauren's came out so “mushy”.

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    Bonnie — December 1, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Tessa – How do you vary this to make spinach gnocchi (which is my favorite)? Also, can you substitute sweet potatoes for white in this recipe? Thanks!

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