If you've ever bought pre-made, shelve-stable, room-temperature packaged gnocchi, you've been disappointed before. They're always gummy with very little potato taste. I wish it were easier to like the much more convenient substitute. God knows how many times I failed at making the legendary light-as-cloud, fluffy, pillowy gnocchi. I've made enough batches that were colossal waste of time and ingredients, I could hear Gordon Ramsay yelling in my head.
Truth be told I kinda know why. But honestly, who measures Idaho potatoes by the grams?! How big do you consider a "medium potato" to be? Do you bake your potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil, or microwave them with a lid on? What is a good amount of water loss? What is a proper amount of dusting flour? What does it even mean to work just until the dough comes together?!
If you've shared my frustrations, this is a recipe for you! It recently dawned on me that potato gnocchi are finicky because the wetness of cooked potatoes vary and is often difficult to control for in home kitchen (size & freshness of potatoes, temperature & time, cooking method etc). Therefore it requires experience to tell when just the right amount of flour is applied for the given moisture content of the mashed potatoes. Because we can't really drain mashed potatoes, ricotta is often used as an alternative for reliable gnocchi, especially for novice cooks.
But this huge variable can be entirely accounted for with the very reliable, instant mashed potato mix. They're easy to measure, with consistently negligible moisture content. The convenience is just icing on the cake. By using half the amount of water than called for, you can easily make a drier mashed potato that requires less flour. Because gluten is created by water and flour, this low-moisture, low-flour dough is very forgiving, and won't turn gummy easily even if slightly 'overworked'. It's also not too sticky and easy to work with. You don't need a piping bag. This forms a dough that rolls out well.
These gnocchi will hold together well in water, with a smooth surface so you know it's not on the edge of almost falling apart. You can make these even if you've never made gnocchi before. And you can reliably reproduce the same batch, time and time again.
1 4oz pouch mashed potato mix (~1 cup dry mix)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup flour
1 egg yolk
optional: 1/4 cup chopped basil, or herb of your choice
Add boiling water to potato mix, stir until the dry solids are all dissolved, and you have a uniform mixture. Spread out your mashed potato mixture on a floured kneeding surface. Lightly dust the flour over, and pour over the beaten egg yolk. Work the dough together. Toss and press down, until you see no more dry flour. Avoid continuous motions in one direction as that creates gluten. Fold chopped herbs into the dough, if using. Once the dough is formed, roll it out and cut into small pieces.
Boil a large pot of water and generously salt it. Drop the gnocchis in. Gently tilt the pot back and forth to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. Avoid stirring them with a spatula early on in the cooking process, as these may break easily.
Cook until the gnocchis float to the top, about 2~3 minutes. meanwhile preheat a nonstick pan on medium-low heat and melt a tablespoon of butter. As soon as the gnocchi float to the top, fetch them out with a slotted spoon or spatula, and drop them into the frying pan. Fry until both sides are golden brown, about 1~2 minutes per side on medium heat. Try to stay on the lower end of medium heat to avoid burning. Cook until both side are nicely browned. Serve with grated parmigiano reggiano, and some extra herbs. Try it with a chilled marinara dip!
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