The kitchen of my grandmother was filled with contradictions. She was Italian but my grandfather was Ukrainian. She would effortlessly blend these two culinary cultures so that most meals consisted of comforting foods from each. This achievement went under recognized by most of us as the reality of the situation was my grandmother wasn’t the best cook. She didn’t really feel comfortable in the kitchen.
Luckily I didn’t recognize that as a child and was more than happy to help her in the kitchen. She was happy to have the help as that meant company and as I got older more complicated dishes. We would work side by side and I learned some of the light hand work needed when making potato based doughs.
Potato doughs, like those used to make the Italian gnocchi and Central/Eastern European pierogi or varenyky. As a child I prefered pierogis as these potato and cheese filled dumplings really satisfied my savoury cravings. As an adult I’m more partial to gnocchi as the light pillows serve as the vehicle for flavoursome sauces.
Either way they make great use of the nutrient rich potato while bringing strength of character to a dish. Potatoes are a great food for migraineurs as they are a rich source of potassium. One medium potato is ¼ of your daily potassium target. Enjoy my friends.
Light and fluffy gnocchi are the perfect platform for the stars of your dish.
Required skills: boiling water; using a measuring cup instead of eyeballing it.
I don’t use egg in my gnocchi as I think it makes them too heavy. To me they should be sweet, light pillows. If you use a starchy potato then they will hold together perfectly. I use Desiree potatoes since we don’t have a plethora of potato varieties readily available in Australia. The real trick to making fluffy gnocchi is a light hand so as not to work the dough too much.
- 1 medium Desiree potato per person
- ¼ cup flour per potato twice sifted plus extra for dusting the board
- Pot large enough to hold potatoes
- Flour sifter
- Potato ricer with a fine mesh
- Slotted spoon
- Place potatoes with skins still on them in the pot and cover with cold water. Add a good amount of salt, it should taste like the sea. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a low boil and cook until easily pierced with a knife. Usually 30-45 minutes but will depend on the size of your potatoes.
- Pour off the water and allow the potatoes to cool to a handling temperature. You want to rice them while they are still quite warm, basically you want to be cool enough to be able to drop them into the potato ricer.
- Rice the potatoes, push them through the fine mesh of a potato ricer, onto a clean bench or large plate. You want to be able to spread them out a bit over a large area so that they can come to room temperature.
- While your potatoes are cooling double sift your flour.
- When potatoes are at room temperature pile them up on a clean bench. Sprinkle, dust from a height the flour over the top of the potatoes. When the surface is covered use your fingers to swirl the flour through while bringing up fresh potato from the bottom. Keep repeating until all the flour is incorporated.
- Gently knead the gnocchi dough adding a bit more flour if it’s too sticky. It should be tacky and not sticking to your hands. A light hand here and as few kneads as possible. You don’t want to compact the dough too much.
- Set dough on the bench to rest for 15-30 minutes.
- Break off a fist full and roll into a snake. Cut into 1 inch, the length from the tip of your thumb to the knuckle if you bend your thumb, pieces.
- I roll my gnocchi on a fork but you can use a gnocchi board. Here are links to videos showing the fork and gnocchi board method. The key here is to create a folded piece of dough so that the sauce can ooze into the middle.
- Lay them out on a clean dish towel as you go. Keep them covered so they don’t dry out.
- To cook the gnocchi bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the gnocchi in and fish them out when they start to float; usually 2-3 minutes. I set them in a colander so they can finish draining.
- Toss them through your sauce. Or as we are loving right now pan fry in butter with veggies and leftover roast finished with a bit of heavy cream.
So my friends, what is your favourite thing to do with potatoes?