Monday, December 14, 2015

Homemade Potato Dumplings (G is for Gluten Free Gnocchi)

G is for Gluten Free Gnocchi

Luke is catching on.  Last week, the boys got a "second dinner" when I needed pictures for our post F is for French Toast. This week, Luke said if I wanted help, he'd make gnocchi for dinner one night, since it was letter G week.  I told him he was hired!

Gnocchi is the Roman avia (Grandmother) of nearly all European dumplings.  It was introduced as the Roman empire expanded throughout Europe, with each culture putting its own twist on it.  Originally, the recipe was was flour based, but in the 16th century, the potato was introduced to Europe and became the basis of many Italian versions of dumpling.   Russet potatoes are mashed and mixed with flour, usually egg, and sometimes ricotta cheese, to make little pillows of yumminess.  Gnocchi are traditionally a primo piato dish - something served for a first course in lieu of soup.  They can be served with nearly any smooth sauce - traditional favorites are a red tomato sauce, pesto, or even melted butter flavored with a bit of sage.  Luke served them with a basic marinara sauce, but I didn't get any photos of the plated gnocchi -- they disappeared too quickly!  I guess he'll just have to make them again!

Homemade Gluten Free Gnocchi

serves 6-8 as a starter,  4-6 as an entree

2 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes
1 egg
1 cup gluten free flour mix (we used King Arthur)
2 Tbsp corn meal
1 c. Kosher salt

Special tools:
Strainer w/ handle or a cooking spider
Potato ricer (optional)

Step 1: Preparing the gnocchi

Scrub the potato skins.  Put the unpeeled potatoes into a pot, and cover with 1" of cold water.  Bring to a boil, and simmer 20 minutes.  Remove the potatoes from the water, and allow to cool until you can handle them.

Note: It's important to cook the potatoes with the skins on so they don't absorb a lot of the cooking water.  If they do, you'll have to add extra flour, which will make the dumplings heavy.

Remove the skin from the potatoes. You should be able to nudge the edge up with a paring knife, and then pull the skins right off.

 Place them in a large mixing bowl, and mash them until smooth.  (Tip: A potato ricer makes it extra easy to avoid lumps, but if you don't have one, that's OK.  Mash the potatoes, and then run your hands through them to smooth out any big lumps.)  Allow mashed potatoes to cool to room temperature.

Lightly beat the egg, then add to the potato mix. It's easiest if you use your hand and just squish it through.

Knead in the flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, until your potato mixture comes into a ball and has the consistency of play dough.

Break off a small piece. Roll into a "snake", and then cut 1/2" long pieces.

As you cut them, place the gnocchi on a foil-lined cookie sheet that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal.

Artistic arrangement optional.

Step 2: Cooking the gnocchi

Bring a large pot of water (at least 6 quarts) to a rolling boil.  Add 1 cup Kosher salt.  The width of the pot is not necessarily important, but a shorter, wider pot (like a dutch oven) will cook more at one time than a taller, more narrow stockpot.  The wider pot gives you more room to maneuver your spider or strainer.

While this comes to a boil, prepare your sauce, and keep warm; if you're using melted butter, put it in your pan and turn it on.  You'll want your sauce to go BEFORE you boil the gnocchi because they only take about 3 minutes to cook.

Add gnocchi to the boiling water. Watch carefully.  When the gnocchi float to the surface, use the spider/straner remove. You don't want to drain these in a colander like spaghetti -- they will squash together and become a giant mass.  

When you take them out, drain and put them directly onto serving plates and top with sauce.  (If using a butter sauce, place in skillet with prepared butter sauce, toss to coat and then serve). 

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