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This is turning out to be harder than I expected. I had gnocchi at a restaurant which had a crispy outside. I fail to consistently achieve this.

I have tried shallow frying — gnocchi just absorbs all the oil.

Pan frying — gnocchi seems to cook through before getting crispy.

Any help?

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I'd boil them in water, then let them rest a while to let the humidity level lower a little bit before pan frying them. –  Max Mar 11 at 13:07
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3 Answers

If the exterior of the gnocchi you had at the restaurant was crispy in the sense that it had a crunch to it, then they probably dropped it in a deep fryer for a minute or so to crisp it up.

I usually saute mine in clarified butter to brown the exterior and form a crust but it's not necessarily "crispy".

Regardless of what you're frying and whether you're shallow or deep-frying it, the problem of absorbing oil and turning out greasy is due to not having your oil hot enough, or adding too much food at once and dropping the temperature too much.

You usually want to fry between 350 and 375 degrees. If you're using a thermostat controlled fryer or electric skillet, then I suggest setting the temperature at 365 degrees so you still have room for up to a 15 degree drop in temperature without detriment to the food.

When food is fried the oil heats up the moisture inside the food product which then turns to steam and forces its way out. As the steam pushes outward it creates the visible bubbles we see. It's the force of the steam pushing outward that keeps the oil from going in to the food. As the temperature drops and thus the pressure from the steam, or the moisture has cooked away and food isn't removed when its done, the food starts to absorb the oil and turn greasy.

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A very good explanation. Thanks. Which 'degrees' are those? Fahrenheit or Celcius? –  Mark Seemann Jul 23 '10 at 8:44
    
You're welcome, sorry I didn't specify...I was referring to Fahrenheit. –  Darin Sehnert Jul 23 '10 at 11:43
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Why you shouldn't deep-fry a gnocchi

Ever wonder what happens if you put gnocchi in a deep-fat frier? Steve from WebRestaurantStore discovered, the hard way, that they burst, flinging themselves high in the air in a shower of white-hot, hilarious grease.

flying gnocchi

This is what happens when you deep fry them.

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Awesome. Just... awesome. –  Mrs. Garden Dec 18 '10 at 22:07
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Gnocchi is already a very hearty dish; deep frying it sounds positively deadly!

You need a good pan to make crispy, pan-fried gnocchi. Ideal is a heavy cast iron skillet, well seasoned. Alton Brown has an excellent description of how to season a cast iron skillet in his book: "Gear for your kitchen". It's basically a coat of vegetable oil to the pan, placed upside down in a 350 degree oven for an hour, then turn off the oven and let the pan set until it's cool. If the pan has a wooden handle, you may want to remove it before putting it in the oven. Otherwise the handle will acquire a nice seasoned look too:)

Once you have your seasoned skillet, it will function like non-stick cookware! Heat the pan (you can leave it on medium-high or even high heat pretty much as long as you want until you are ready to cook, then add a SMALL amount of good olive oil. The French expression is a "filet d'huile" or a "thread of oil". If the pan is hot, the olive oil will get hot very quickly (but not as fast as butter, which burns REALLY FAST. Butter is good too, though. Just adjust the pan temp down a little first). Throw in the gnocchi, add a little thyme, rosemary, etc., and shake the pan back and forth over the burner like Jiffy Pop until the gnocchis are golden brown on all sides. If you want to get fancy you can lift one edge of the pan like an Italian chef and make the gnocchis hop into the air a little bit to make them turn.

Crumble a few pinches of "fleur de sel" (flake salt) over the top between your thumb and forefinger, and you will soon be eating a heavenly dish.

Note: don't cook this dish too often unless you are really skinny and are trying to gain a few pounds!

Have fun.

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