Gnocchi

August 10, 2009

Out of the Pan

Out of the Pan

Wow, gluten-free gnocchi is better than the original. That never happens. These simple potato dumplings are the lightest I’ve ever had. And, if you choose to finish them in a close-to smoking pan of olive oil as I did, they puff up into the most golden, crisp little pillows imaginable. Actually, they puffed and lightened so much that they lost their smart textural lines. No matter. Have you made gnocchi before? I had my friends Suzanne, Courtney and Richard for dinner, they wanted to learn. Richard was by far the best at rolling the gnocchi dough into narrow, even ropes. And Courtney was a natural at pressing the gnocchi across the lined wooden paddle – it’s called a cavatelli. Suzanne made sure they both knew what they were doing, she is an excellent project manager and enjoys eating more than cooking. Try this recipe. I swear, you won’t be disappointed.

Serves 4

1 pound russet potatoes, about 2 medium, baked and cooled

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 large egg yolk (save the white to add to your morning frittata)

a few swirls of extra-virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

* some variations

Set a large, covered pot of water on the stove to boil. Prepare a sheet pan with a small puddle of olive oil and set near the stove for when the gnocchi is done. Peel your cooled potatoes and grate, mash or rice into a large bowl. Add the brown rice flour, cornstarch and salt and mix together with a fork. Add the egg yolk and briskly stir together. A shaggy or rough dough will begin to form. Turn this shaggy dough out onto a lightly cornstarched surface. Knead gently several times to form an uneven ball. Divide ball into four pieces. Knead each piece of dough into a somewhat tidy ball and then roll and form into a long, narrow rope. Repeat with the rest of the gnocchi dough. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the ropes into bite-size, 1/2″, dumplings. Now create texture. You can do this by pinching each dumpling in its centre, creating a chunky bow-tie-like shape, or by running each dumpling quickly down either a fork’s tines or an inexpensive ($3) lined paddle, a cavatelli. In four separate batches, gently boil the gnocchi. They pop up to surface like miniature bouys when they’re done, and cook very quickly so don’t leave the stove. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and turn them onto your waiting olive-oiled pan. They are ready to use now, you can serve them in pesto or tomato sauce or garlicky olive oil. Or you can take them one step further and turn them into crisp, golden pillows. Set a large frying pan over high heat and swirl in some olive oil, get it really hot, just this side of smoking. Add the fresh, still-warm gnocchi, let it sear and crust, toss the pan after a couple of minutes. Keep cooking and tossing until the gnocchi have crisped all over, throw in a little sea salt. Tip out onto a platter and finish with some freshly ground black pepper. Be careful not to blister the roof of your mouth with your fresh, ultra-hot potato dumpling .

Fresh Gluten-Free Gnocchi

Fresh Gluten-Free Gnocchi

* There are endless variations for gnocchi. Try the plain potato gnocchi first, and then you can tweak it as you get more practiced. Some suggestions: a couple of cloves of minced garlic; fresh chopped herbs; use one yam or sweet potato in lieu of one russet; or add a handful of parmesan. I’ve added a little cooked, grated beet to create a bright magenta gnocchi. You can experiment.

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