Gnocchi shares with souffles and pates an unfair reputation for being
tricky and difficult to get right. In fact, making potato gnocchi is
child's play, a bit like making pastry but less likely to go wrong.
Like pastry, best results come from working with cold ingredients.
The ratio of potato to flour, eggs and butter or oil makes less
difference if you use a waxy potato but do experiment. You may find you
prefer more potato and less flour, or oil rather than butter in the
Gnocchi is very versatile. Traditionally it is served from a hot
buttered dish with diners helping themselves to a grating of fresh
Parmesan, but it can be varied by adding herbs, other vegetables or
scraps of ham to the mixture. It is delicious fried up with bacon for
Basic Mixture, serves 6-8:
2 lbs (900 g) floury-variety potatoes
10 oz (275 g) plain flour
1 dsp olive oil
salt, pepper, pinch of nutmeg
Boil the potatoes in their skins in
Cool and skin. Dry mash, season and pile
the potatoes on to a floured board.
Make a well and add a small amount of the
sifted flour, the egg and sprinkle on the olive oil.
Quickly work the mixture to incorporate
the flour, adding more as you do so.
You will end up with a soft, light yet
firm dough that is easy to mould.
Leave it to rest for 20 minutes, while
you put on a large pan of water to boil and butter a gratin dish ready
to go into a warm oven.
Divide the mixture in half and roll each
half into a long thin sausage. Chop into 1-in (2.5-cm) pieces.
Carefully roll each gnocchi round the
prongs of a fork to make a slight curl.
Poach the dumplings in small batches;
they are done when they pop up to the surface and this takes about 5
Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and
keep warm in the gratin dish while you complete the cooking.