I regularly pop a potato or two into the oven to bake when I am baking a batch of bread, (carbon off setting for reckless friends in Cambridge, they know who they are). A baked potato is always useful to have and if you fancy a meal of these fluffy light gnocchi, baked potato is by far the best form of cooked potato to use, being drier than potatoes cooked by boiling.
For this recipe you will need: (serves two)
250g of baked potato flesh
50g or 60g of plain flour
1 small egg
1 teaspoon of bouillon vegetable powder or 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Begin by mashing the potato, I use a ricer for this purpose, it is an
invaluable piece of kit, producing the lightest, lump free mash, it
also makes a perfect topping for a fish pie needing only a dribble of
melted butter in order to form a crunchy delicious crust. The secret to
making light gnocchi is making sure you have a light touch throughout,
so the ricer creates a light texture mash whithout working the potato
too much and making it gluey. Take a small egg, I have the ideal chicken
for this, a Barnevelder called Beryl, who lays perfect small eggs, add
to the potato along with the bouillon powder or salt and 50g of flour.
Working with a fork and with a light touch bring the ingredients
together to form a soft dough. You may need to extra 10g of flour but
please, resist if at all possible. The more flour you use the heavier
and less tasty your gnocchi will be. On a well floured board, roll out
half the dough into a sausage shape and cut off small pillows. Again
don't overwork the dough and keep your hands floured in order to avoid
getting sticky. It's better to use flour at this stage and brush off the
excess than to make the dough firmer, drier and consequently heavier.
Roll out the second half of the dough and cut up into small pillow
shapes. Taking a fork, press each pillow onto the back of the fork to
create shallow grooves, these grooves will hold more of the sauce in the
finished dish, but you can omit this stage if you wish. Brush off any
excess flour. I allow my gnocchi to dry out for an hour or so before
cooking but this is not essential. Bring a couple of litres of water to a
rapid boil in a large pan and drop in the gnocchi, cook until they
float to the surface, about 2 minutes, then a further minute, drain before
tossing in whatever sauce you are using, then serve.
Today I made my favourite tomato sauce while the gnocchi were resting. Fry 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
in 2 tablespoons of good olive oil. Fry gently on a low heat until
they begin to turn a pale beige colour. Add 1 shallot or a small onion,
finely chopped and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes until the
shallot becomes translucent, add 1
teaspoon of dried oregano and cook gently for a further minute before adding a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of bouillon powder, 1/2 teaspoon
of black pepper and 1 teaspoon of sugar, cover with a lid and cook on a
very low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. I tossed the
cooked gnocchi in the sauce, placed them in an ovenproof dish and topped
with 20g of finely grated parmesan before placing in a hot oven for 10
minutes. I may be eating lunch on my own but these were worth every bit
of effort and I have enough for another meal tomorrow. In order to make this for 4 people, double the quantities for the gnocchi, you'll find the sauce as described above, is plenty.