Little potato gnocchi

Little potato gnocchi

Topini di patate

By
From
Florentine
Serves
4
Photographer
Lauren Bamford

These little round potato gnocchi are called topini in Florence (an unusual name as topini means ‘mice’). Instead of the traditional ridged, rectangular pillows, these gnocchi are simply small balls, which means they are very easy to make. They are usually served with either sugo toscano (meat sauce) or sugo di pomodoro (tomato sauce), or simply with melted butter and grated parmesan. In the summer, these are lovely with chopped fresh tomatoes and perhaps a dollop of pesto.

The secret to light and fluffy gnocchi begins with the right potato and the right proportion of flour – the less moisture in the potatoes, the less flour you have to add, which means lighter gnocchi. Too much flour will contribute to unpleasantly chewy gnocchi. In Italy, you will often see recipes calling for ‘old potatoes’. The idea behind this is that old potatoes have a lower water content. Similarly, the more starchy the potato (such as those good for mashing), the less flour you will need. In this recipe, the process is all about removing as much moisture as possible from the potatoes to ensure pillowy gnocchi. Potatoes are boiled whole, in their skins, which means less moisture penetrates them. They are peeled and mashed while still hot, then spread out to release as much steam as possible, resulting in a dry, fluffy mixture. This is mixed with only as much flour as needed to obtain a smooth dough and it is worked as little as possible so that the dough won’t become tough. Now you’re on your way to ideal gnocchi – or in this case, topini.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg potatoes of similar size, (use a starchy variety such as Dutch creams, king edward or Idaho russet)
A pinch salt
1 egg, beaten
250g plain flour

Method

  1. Rinse the potatoes and put them in a pot of cold water, skins on and whole. Bring to the boil and cook until a fork easily slips into them. Drain and peel the skins while still hot (use a fork to ‘hold’ the potato for you in one hand while you peel the skin with a sharp knife using the other hand). Immediately put them through a potato ricer or mash them, add the salt and spread out over a chopping board or a tray to allow the steam to escape as quickly as possible.
  2. When cool, add the egg and mix to combine. Add the flour, bit by bit, incorporating with each addition until no longer sticky and you have a smooth and easy-to-handle dough, and then stop (you may or may not need all of the flour). The dough should be neither sticky nor crumbly and the mixture should not be worked too much.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough into four portions. Work with one piece at a time (rest the other pieces under a tea or dish towel), roll the dough into a long log about 1.5–2 cm thick. Cut into pieces 1.5 cm long and roll these pieces into small balls. Continue until the dough is finished.
  4. Cook the topini in a large saucepan of gently simmering, salted water over a low heat until they begin to float. Remove gently with a slotted spoon and serve with your preferred sauce.
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