when your gnocchi turns into mashed potatoes…

by Michelle

I have made gnocchi for thirty years. Three decades of practise gives a person a sense of confidence that is rock solid. Tuesday evening crushed my confidence.

Despite the miserable March weather, the restaurant was humming. The orders were coming in and leaving the kitchen at a lovely rate. For our ‘In Addition’ menu, I had prepared a rich creamy lamb sauce on which I had intended to serve our house made potato gnocchi. My version of meat and potatoes – ‘Italian style’!

I was chatting away as I poached the gnocchi, not really paying close attention to what was happening in the pot.

With blind faith, I dropped the gnocchi into the skillet on top of the lamb sauce. I almost had a heart attack when I lifted the skillet to give it a toss. My usual perfect little pillows were nothing more than a lump of watery mashed potatoes!

I had a board full of orders and a pot full of mud. My mantra in the kitchen has always been – shoulders back, deep breath, steady pace. At that precise moment, my mantra was silenced by panic. What the heck was I going to do? Liz calmly said, ‘what are you going to do? Don’t sweat it – make the call.’ That is restaurant speak for ‘fix it or chuck it’

Total instinct took over. I grabbed a skillet and placed it over a high flame. I dropped a spoonful of clarified butter into the centre of the skillet and then added the gnocchi. The gnocchi looked perfect but clearly the potato to flour ratio was off, hence the watery mush when poached. However, I knew they would hold if they were browned, gently…

Being able to turn on a dime is critical in a professional kitchen. Stuff happens that you could never anticipate. We have an exposed kitchen so screaming, jumping up and down or throwing pots at the wall are not options for me. I am in more of a ‘suck it up Princess’ kind of situation…lol. I love it!

Carefully browning the gnocchi worked – exhale.

Thanks for reading.