Gnocchi di Patate al Ragu d’Agnello

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Potato Gnocchi with Lamb Ragu and Pecorino Cheese

  Serves 6 People


Ingredients for Gnocchi:

  • 1-1/2 kg potatoes, whole and ‘old’ and starchy; (not new potatoes)
  • 4 eggs (2 whole eggs; 2 yolks)
  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 50 g butter
  • 20 g fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary)
  • 20 g fresh sage
  • 30 ml extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for Lamb Ragu, Stage 1:

  • 1 kg lamb shoulder or shank, bone in
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 whole garlic head, cut in half, crosswise
  • 1 bouquet garni with black peppercorns, fennel seeds, sprig of thyme (amounts to taste)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dry Italian red wine
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Ingredients for Lamb Ragu, Stage 2:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp dried pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 300 g of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
  • 1/2 cup of dry Italian red wine
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 100 g grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Gnocchi:

  • In a small saucepan melt the butter with the fresh herbs, over low heat
  • Place the pan on a corner of the stove to keep warm and let the flavours of the herbs infuse for 1-2 hours
  • Choose potatoes of approximately the same size and with the skins on bring to a boil; continue to cook a a low boil until soft
  • While still warm, drain and peel the potatoes and then pass through a vegetable mill onto a clean pasta board
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
  • Make a well in the center of the potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour
  • Break the eggs into the center of the well, add the salt, and 20 ml of the infused herbed butter (use remaining infused butter as a sauce for cooked gnocchi at another time)
  • Using a fork, stir together the flour and potatoes and mix in the eggs; bring the dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed.
  • Knead gently for 4 minutes, until the ball is dry to the touch
  • Divide the ball into 6 smaller balls.  Roll each ball into a rope approximately 1-1/2 cm in diameter and cut each rope into 2 cm pieces.
  • Flick each piece of dough of the tines of a fork to indent
  • Drop the gnocchi into salted boiling water and cook until they float to the surface (approximately 1 minute)
  • Using a slotted spoon transfer the gnocchi to a tray or to a prepared sauce
  • If not added directly to a sauce, toss with extra-virgin olive oil and store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Any remaining gnocchi not used with the Lamb Ragu can be reheated and served with left over infused butter

Method Ragu, Stage 1

  • Season the lamb with salt and pepper
  • In a large, oiled braising pan over high heat brown the meat for approximately 5 minutes on each side
  • Set the meat aside, tip out any excess fat from the pan and then add the diced onion, carrots, celery and garlic; cook for 5 minutes to soften the vegetables
  • Pour in the wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan, then return the meat to the pan
  • Pour in the water and then add the bouquet garni
  • Bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to a preheated 325°F oven; braise until the meat begins to fall off the bone
  • Remove from oven and let the meat cool in the braising liquid
  • Remove the meat from the bones, remove excess fat, making sure not to shred the meat too finely
  • Discard the bones, braised vegetables and bouquet garni
  • Chop the meat into 3/4″ pieces and set aside
  • Strain the braising liquid into a tall narrow pot and let it settle until the fat rises to the surface; skim off most of the fat
  • Place the pot over medium heat and reduce liquid until thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon; skim fat from the surface as it simmers

Method Ragu, Stage 2

  • Heat a little extra-virgin olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat
  • Add the diced onion and sweat until soft, season with the red pepper flakes
  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes
  • Add the diced red pepper and cook until soft
  • Pour in the wine and reduce a little, then add the crushed tomato and cook for an additional five minutes
  • Pour in the braising liquid and simmer
  • Add the lamb and adjust flavour with salt and pepper, to taste

Presentation:

  • Serve the Lamb Ragu over potato Gnocchi or Pappardelle.  Garnish with Pecorino cheese and chopped Italian parsley