Dear Gordon Ramsey,
Many years ago, I picked up a book called “humble pie.” It was about a young man who went through some things, and then, was about to become a super star football player, when he got injured and decided to cook instead. Lots of harrowing things happened in yachts and kitchens and restaurants all over the world, but this man fought off all the things that tried to crush his spirit with a whisk or a perfect plate of risotto. I then saw this man become a super star—not on the football field—but on TV, where his foul mouthed temper ALMOST dissembled the humility I’d grown to admire. But it was there, intact, just covered up under makeup and hot studio lights. The other day, I saw a video of this man showing homecooks how to make gnocchi. I’m vegan, he’s not, but it looked so easy and scrummy, I had to try. I’d like to thank that man, the man who dished up such a delectable slice of Humble Pie, that one day, it would lead to me making the most delicious plate of gnocchi I’ve ever eaten.
I’d never made gnocchi before, but I’d heard enough about its challenges to do my homework. I read a ton of blogs and articles, and watched dozens of videos. Out of all of them, I was most inspired by this very short one by Gordon Ramsay. It looked simple enough to veganize and provided clear steps on how to achieve the “not-too-thick, but not-too-fall-apart-y” pasta.
I soon discovered that the key to good gnocchi is that there is no ONE key to good gnocchi. There are a lot of things you can and SHOULD do in order to set yourself up for gnocchi success. My first batch turned out horrible–they dissolved into mashed potatoes (delicious mashed potatoes) that I happily ate right out of the pan. I was so obsessed with using as little flour as possible (the oft repeated warning for gnocchi noobs), I didn’t use enough and the potatoes rightfully turned into mush. Determined not to be defeated by the gnocchi, I tried again, and added twice the amount of flour. It turned out great!
So, here, I’ve distilled for you my own “do’s and don’t’s” for your perfect gnocchi. I know these will work, because I tried it again the next day and they turned out better than the day before!!
Tips on making your own perfect scratch gnocchi:
- Use russet potatoes. They are starchier and will therefore facilitate an easier dough.
- Use BAKED potatoes, not boiled. Baked potatoes will eliminate excess water, while boiled potatoes will ADD water.
- Make sure to RICE your potatoes. If you don’t have a ricer, you can use a sieve (though, you will waste a lot of potato that way…). Using a fork is the last resort. You want to aerate your potatoes, to eliminate excess moisture and keep them “fluffy,” and the best way to achieve that is to rice the potatoes.
- In terms of the amount of flour, I use the 1 in 4 rule: divide the total weight of your potatoes (baked and peeled) by 4. That’s how much flour I like to use.
- Sift your flour over your potatoes, to avoid clumping.
- Avoid kneading your dough–pulling at the dough will create gluten, which you want to avoid. Simply fold the flour into the potato and press down, in order to facilitate binding.
- Cook your gnocchi until they float to the surface of your pot–do not cook for any longer than necessary, as they will start to melt away if you do….!
- Transfer your boiled dough directly to a pan of hot oil, to finish them off!
- Rice the potatoes while they are still warm (otherwise, it will be much harder to rice them). If you do not have a ricer, you can also push them through a sieve. Otherwise, mash them up with a fork while also trying to "fluff" them.
- Sift flour over the potatoes. Add sour cream and 1 tbsp of olive oil.
- Using a bench scraper, fold a section of the potatoes over the top and inwards. Continue with this motion until a loose dough starts to form. Then, start using your hands to continue the folding motion, while gently pressing the dough into itself. Repeat this motion for approximately 1 minute.
- Roll the dough into a thick (2 inches in circumference) log. Divide the log in half. Begin rolling one piece into a long rope, approximate 12-16 inches. If the dough becomes too sticky, dust it with flour.
- Dust your knife with flour. Cut the rope into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Create dimples in each piece using the end of your spoon.
- Add your fresh pasta to a pot of salted boiling water. Cook until the pasta floats to the surface (approximately 90 seconds). In the meantime, place a non-stick pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil.
- When the pasta is cooked, transfer the gnocchi directly from the pot to the pan, which should be nice and hot by now. Cook until golden and flip (about 1 minute). Cook for an additional minute and add thyme, garlic, peas, butter, and salt. Spoon the butter over the pasta a few times.