May 22 dolcedebbie
After attending the SOBE Food and Wine Festival back in February and hearing Rocco DiSpirito divulge his secrets to perfect gnocchi, I couldn’t wait to get home and try it for myself. So of course, it took me 3 months to actually “get around to it” and try for myself.
One of my dear friends, @missattitude (Jen Straw), has been coming for cooking lessons and this was to be the next lesson. So before she and my neighbors arrived, I decided it would be a good idea to try some of these new tips myself.
First tip was to use pastry flour in lieu of all-purpose flour. Off to the grocery store I went, I knew I had seen it before, so wasn’t worried about the availability. Well, of course, I arrived at the store and not only did I not find pastry flour but no one even knew what it was, and this was to be the story in every store I went to. So, with my students showing up in less than 24 hours, I went to the next best thing, the internet. So after googling pastry flour, I discovered that some, not all, but some describe it as being a mixture of cake flour and all-purpose flour. What did I have to lose, absolutely nothing. So, my first experiment was trying a 50-50 mixture of cake flour and all-purpose, 100% cake flour and 100% all-purpose flour. I won’t bore you with the details, but after trying all three I found that the 50-50 mixture renders the texturally best gnocchi.
Next, Rocco had steamed his potatoes, so next experiment. I tried steaming my potatoes and made a batch. I found that this left me wanting for more flavor in the gnocchi. So I tweeted my results and received an immediate response from one of my friends on Twitter, @DebIFF. She recommended that I try baking the potato versus the steaming. So, off I went to the kitchen for round two. I cut a slit in the top of the potatoes and placed them in the preheated oven for a little over an hour and then proceeded to make the gnocchi and BINGO, not only the texture I was searching for but the flavor as well. Through this process I also learned that if you knead the dough for longer than a minute, it will result in tough rubbery gnocchi.
The final experiment was with what to do with the formed pasta prior to boiling. Rocco mentioned that he placed his gnocchi in the freezer prior to boiling them, so yes, I tried placing a batch in the freezer and going one batch immediately after forming the pasta. This I will have to say I didn’t any benefit to the gnocchi. And because they are so simple to make, there’s no reason to make it before you are ready to serve them.
So, after my night of experiments, I was ready and confident in how I was going to demonstrate the process of making gnocchi for my eager students. So, thanks to not only to Rocco DiSpirito but also @DebIFF (Deborah Mele), my students learned how to make excellent gnocchi.