Last summer i made a Ricotta Gnocchi with Guanciale, Fava beans, Peas & Chanterelles that was a big hit around here. Today i’m presenting you a delicious winter version of potato gnocchi with a lamb ragù that will stick to your bones and hopefully, help you survive winter. Who said there wasn’t any love in this blog?
I learned how to make these gnocchi many years ago from Andrew Carmellini who was the executive chef at Cafe Boulud at the time and who is, in my opinion, one of the finest chef in New York city. Not only he excels at cooking French food, but he’s also a true master at making all kinds of fresh pasta and gnocchi for having trained with the bests in Italy. This is Andrew’s method and recipe I’m sharing with you today and following it religiously will keep you from making the all-too-common potato bullets. Nooo, don’t toss your old gnocchi recipes just yet, buy a potato gun instead! If you have no fun eating them, you might as well shoot’em!.. That’s my motto.. er.. but i’m weird.
This dish is deeply satisfying, pillowy potato gnocchi tossed in a rich, thick and textured lamb ragù enriched with olive oil, a spoonful of sheep’s milk ricotta and a sprinkle of grated pecorino goes on top, a few mint leaves are thrown in to add contrast and a refreshing touch. Perfect!
I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as i did.
For the gnocchi:
- 4 large Idaho potatoes
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmegiano-Reggiano
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
For the lamb ragu:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb shoulder
- 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 1/2 cup finely diced celery
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup canned whole peeled italian tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- 1/4 cup sheep’s milk ricotta
For the ragu:
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot, add the ground lamb and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Brown over high heat for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, onions and celery and mix well. Cook together until the vegetable soften. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate, cook for 2 minutes. Add the red wine and stir to incorporate, scrap down the bottom of the pot and cook wine until it evaporates completely.
- Add the canned tomatoes and the broth. Then add the bay leaves, cumin, coriander, fennel, red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Scrap down the sides of the pot again.
- Bring the mixture to a slow simmer and cook the lamb until the liquid evaporates and the flavors meld, about 1 1/2 hours. The ragu will look like a rich, thick and textured sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 425’F. Prick the potato several times with a fork; place them on a baking sheet. Bake them until the potatoes are tender enough to be pierced by a small knife, about 1 hour. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool just enough so you can handle them, about 3 or 4 minutes (if you let them cool for too long you’ll end up with potato bullets, not gnocchi).
- Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with spoon. Discard the skins. Pass the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer over a marble or clean surface.
- Using your hands, gently stir the beaten egg, parmegiano-reggiano, olive oil, melted butter, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the flour with the potatoes. Work the mixture into a smooth ball. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH! If the dough seems a little too moist, add a touch of flour.
- Take inch-thick slices of the dough and roll them to form a ball. On a lightly floured surface roll out ‘dough snakes’ with the palms of your hands. Cut each snakes into gnocchi-sized pieces (about 1-inch). Place the pieces on a floured tray and cover with plastic wrap until ready to cook.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and let them boil until they come to the surface (about 3 minutes).
- Meanwhile heat some of the lamb ragu in a large pan, remove the gnocchi from the water using a slotted spoon or spider and add to the sauce. Finish up with a touch of olive oil, butter and toss.
- Ladle the gnocchi and ragu into serving bowls, sprinkle with pecorino and a spoonful of sheep’s milk ricotta. Garnish with mint leaves. Enjoy!