from one generation to the next
Potato Gnocchi have been at the forefront of my food thoughts for a month or more now. Could they be made gluten free without compromise to flavour or texture? I recently discovered a post on a “Italy on my mind” which substantiated my thoughts about potato flour being a viable substitute for wheat flour in potato gnocchi. I also found that an egg is necessary as a replacement for the strength that gluten provides in the traditional formula.
The variety of potato you choose, the cooking of the potatoes and the way you handle the dough, however, all play an important part in the success of gnocchi, gluten free or not. The potatoes you choose for gnocchi should be neither too waxy or too floury. In Australia, pink skinned Desiree potatoes are ideal. The potatoes should be steamed whole, skin on, until quite soft. Many cooks recommend a potato ricer to mash the spuds once peeled, but I find diligence with a fork just as effective. It’s important that when mixing the flour and egg into the dough that you handle it lightly and stop kneading as soon as the ingredients are combined. Over handling will result in rubbery gnocchi. The amount of flour needed largely depends on the potatoes. Begin my adding the smallest quantity stipulated in the recipe and if the dough is too sticky to handle add a little extra at a time until it’s manageable.
Once you have a soft but pliable dough, keep it under plastic wrap while you roll sections into ropes and cut the gnocchi. I didn’t bother with the purists indent of the fork tines, but dropped my gnocchi straight into boiling salted water in small batches and boiled them for 3 minutes, timed from the minute the gnocchi floated to the surface. Once you’ve removed them from the water with a slotted spoon, they should be sauced immediately and served without delay.
Gnocchi marries well with burnt butter and sage, well seasoned passata, basil pesto or pesto Trapanese.
I was thrilled with my gluten free potato gnocchi. It was with some trepidation that I dropped them into the boiling water and was elated when they didn’t disintegrate. They were firm but not tough, bouncy but not rubbery. Potato gnocchi will once again appear regularly on our dinner table.
Scrub the potatoes, then steam them whole until soft. Test the potatoes with the tip of a sharp paring knife to test for doneness.
Peel, mash, the potatoes, then spread the mash on a tray to cool slightly.
Sift the flour into a larg bowl, put the mash on top and make a well in the surface. Lightly beat the egg with a fork, pour the egg into the well, then using a pastry scraper or your hands, mix the ingredients into a soft but pliable dough. Add more flour if necessary.
Roll portions of the dough into thick ropes, about cm in diameter, then cut into bite sized sections. Set the gnocchi aside on a well floured board. Cover the gnocchi wrap to prevent then drying out.
Boil water a large pot of water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Drop about 1/4 of the gnocchi into the water, return to a rolling boil. As soon as it floats, set the timer for 3 minutes. Remove the gnocchi from pot with a slotted spoon. Continue cooking batches of gnocchi until complete. Sauce and serve.