What is the best way to ensure prepared gnocchi is light and fluffy, not lumpy and soggy? I've seen tips saying to use more flour, to use less, to add ricotta cheese, to air dry...
This post has been out there for a while - but I found that first parboiling the potatoes (about 10 minutes); then baking them, skins ON in a low-medium temperature oven, until cooked; then cooling slightly and scooping out the flesh; made for much fluffier and generally lighter gnocchi.
Of course, you still need to mash the flesh well, but having it pre-cooked and almost dried out, means that mashing/handling the dough is minimised.
As a bonus, you get to season and eat the delicious potato skins.
Probably the most important considerations is using the correct variety of potato. You need to use a variety that's good for mashing such as Maris Piper or King Edward (uk) or Idaho and russet (US)
It's also very important to make sure you mash the potatoes well. If you can't get a smooth texture by hand mashing, use a mouli or even a food processor.
For flour, use around 225g/8oz of sifted plain flour, for about 450g/1lb of potatoes. When you cook the gnocchi, cook them in small batches. never overload the pot or they will not cook correctly.
To me the key is to work in as little flour as possible. And that means that the potato should be as dry as possible.
That is why I say just bake the potato with the skins wrapped in tinfoil with some water and a little salt (you aren't tightly wrapping each potato, but rather wrapping 2-3 of them together loosely).
Also mash then with a ricer, you can easily spread the potato out to cool and dry further.
Use all purpose flour or better yet a low protein soft wheat flower. Add the flour in stages, and don't over knead it. Once it just gets to the point of being workable to where you can shape it you are there.
You will need an egg, as even if you use a high protein flour you shouldn't be kneading it enough to develop the gluten's that would hold it together (that would cause it to be chewy). You will probably loose a good amount of gnocchi the first couple times due to it falling apart in your water. But once you do it a couple a times you'll get the hang of how it should feel.
I don't really want to tell you a certain amount flour as it depends so much on humidity and other things, you really are just going to gave to try it a few times and get a feel for it.
I hope this helps you and good luck.
The amount of flour to add depends on how much water is in the potatoes after cooking.
If you add too much flour, the texture will suffer. If you add too little flour, the gnocchi will disintegrate in the water.
The best thing to do is add flour a little bit at a time, and boil one test gnocchi after each addition until you reach the desired texture.
Also, I use semolina flour, but most recipes call for all purpose flour. I would think that A-P flour would make them somewhat fluffier than semolina because A-P has less protein.
Some recipes call for an egg, which I don't recommend, as this makes the gnocchi go from dense to denser--you should have no problem getting the gnocchi to stay together with just flour.
You could also try making nontraditional gnocchi (I believe they're called gnocchi a la Parisienne? Can't remember and I'm not digging up my notes from school right now) using pate a choux instead.
Essentially you make your standard pate a choux (this is the cooked pastry dough you use for eclairs, profiteroles, etc), and then drop gnocchi-sized dollops into well-seasoned (pasta water should be as salty as Mama Mediterranean, per Mario Batali) water, cook until done. They come out very fluffy, and are best suited to very light sauces.
My Italian professor comes from Napoli or Naples in English said you should boil until fork tender and add one part of flour for four parts mashed warm potato add reconstituted porch ini mushrooms or sun dried tomatoes chopped fine and kneaded into a dough before rolling out and cutting. Rook the gnocchi over the teeth of a fork so sauce can hold on before boiling. Then boil until they float then remove and toss with a sage butter sauce.