In Italy, dumplings are collectively known as gnocchi and are made in several different styles.
The most common way to prepare gnocchi is to combine potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed) with flour to form soft bite-size lumps of dough. But it’s important to use the right variety of potato when making the gnocchi.
Starchy potatoes, which have a floury texture, work best as they contain less water than the waxy type.
Yukon Gold potatoes are the best variety, but Russet Burbank and Desiree spuds make great alternatives and are more readily available in Australia.
Different types of potatoes
According to Neff Kitchen, spuds are categorised into three basic types.
As the name suggests, these potatoes are high in starch, low in moisture and have a floury texture. As well as the Russet Burbank, this variety also includes Yukon Gold, King Edward and Sweet potatoes.
These spuds are best suited for mashing, frying and making chips, as they contain lots starch.
This variety has less starch and contain more moisture and sugar – it includes Dutch Cream and Kipfler potatoes. Often smaller with a waxy skin and a creamy and firm inside, they’re perfect for making boiling, roasting and slicing, so can be used in soups or potato salads.
An all-round good spud, these potatoes have a medium starch content, more moisture than the starchy variety and hold together in boiling water.
This variety includes Desiree, Sebago and Coliban potatoes, and can be used for making chips, roasting, pan frying, stewing or gratins such as Dauphinoise potatoes.
What is the best type of potato for making gnocchi?
The starchy variety of potatoes are the best spuds for making potato gnocchi, as they contain less water – this means less flour is required and the gnocchi will be lighter.
Yukon Gold is the favourite of this variety, but in Australia Russet Burbank and Desiree potatoes are a great alternative and can be found in most supermarkets.
Use 'old' floury potatoes such as Desiree, and for even better results, allow the potatoes to sit for a couple of weeks in a cool, dry place before using.
How to make the perfect gnocchiBest Recipes gives a great outline for making the perfect potato gnocchi.
Boil the potatoes with the skin on (don’t over boil the spuds, only cook until they are tender). Once cooked, allow the potatoes to cool for 30 minutes before peeling away the skin with your hands.
For the best results, use a potato ricer to mash the potatoes. If you don't own a potato ricer, use a regular potato masher, then pass the mix through a sieve to ensure it is completely smooth.
The next step is to add the flour to the potatoes. Best Recipes says there’s no hard and fast rule on how much should be added - the mix should be firm but lightly sticky.
Add the gnocchi into a pan of salted, boiling water, and allow them to float to the top before scooping out with a slotted spoon. This shouldn't take more than 2-3 minutes.
You can freeze any uncooked gnocchi for up to two months by sprinkling each piece with a little plain flour and placing in a single layer, in zip lock bags.
When you're ready to use them, don't defrost the gnocchi or they'll lose their shape as they cook. Instead, throw the frozen gnocchi straight into the rapidly boiling water.
You can experiment with all kinds of flavours when creating potato gnocchi – add cheese to the equation or chilli for a spice kick – there’s a tonne of ways to enjoy gnocchi.
Different types of gnocchi
Life in Italy say the most common way to prepare gnocchi is to combine potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed) with flour to form soft bite-size lumps of dough.
Other types of gnocchi are made with semolina flour, milk and cheese – also known as Gnocchi alla Romana.
Some versions are made with regular flour and other kinds can be made with leftover bread.
Florence’sstrozzapreti are gnocchi made from a combination of spinach and ricotta.
Another famous spinach/ricotta gnocchi recipe is Lombardy’s malfatti meaning “malformed” since these gnocchi are made from leftover ravioli filling and do not have uniform shape of other varieties