I write this post with an ache in my bones and pain in my head, for I know that eminently winter is coming. The dread of the cold, frost bitten toes and icicle fingers.
Today’s walk is shamefully the first time I have really been outside since I landed back from Italy a week ago. Of course I have been out/left the house, but the last week has flown past with such a flurry of catering jobs that I have completely missed that it is in fact autumn. Summer is no more.
Not to let this be a dampener on an already damp sunday, I had to find an antidote. Something yummy and something sunny. A dish to put a bit of colour into this otherwise grey day…. The Ragu sauce recipe was acquired from a little Trattoria in Zoagli last summer. Originally made with a mixture of pork and wild boar, I have adapted and changed it to make it more practical for everyday use. If you can get hold of Boar, or want to try making the Ragu with a mixture of meat, please do. It works well with 50-50 Beef and Pork. It is also fantastic with the addition of 100g Lardons (or diced Bacon) 50% Pork Mince and 50% diced Pheasant. The Method is the same, just brown the meat first and cook it for a little longer. The lower and slower, the better. You want the meat to be soft and tender and the sauce to be rich and thick, the perfect contrast to light and fluffy gnocchi.
- 500g Floury Potatoes
- 175g Flour
- 1 small Egg
- 1 heaped tsp Salt
- 1 small Onion
- 1 small Carrot
- 1 small stick Celery
- 200g good quality Sausages, or medium lean Pork Mince
- 50ml Red Wine
- 3 tbs Olive Oil
- 3 tbs Tomato Puree
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 250ml Water
To make the Ragu
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, celery and carrot, and fry gently until soft.
Increase the heat and add the meat. (If you pan is quite small, turn the vegetables into a dish and brown the meat separately. Once that is done you can add the veg back to the pan.) Once the meat is lightly browned reduce the heat a little and add the tomato puree to the pan, fry until it darkens.
Deglaze with the wine, then add the water and bay leaves. Mix well and reduce the heat to low.
Cook low and slow for an hour and a half, to two hours. (Ragu is always better made ahead and eaten the next day)
Whilst the Ragu is bubbling away you can make the Gnocchi.
Boil and slightly mash your potatoes, then add the flour and 1 egg. Mash it with a potato masher until it has gone sticky and combined, then season with 2 tsp of salt.
Flour your work surface, take a quarter of the dough and roll it out into a snake, then cut off small pieces. Place the gnocchi onto a floured baking tray, dust a fork with flour and gently press into the top of the gnocchi to marks them. You can make up all the gnocchi, or save the rest of the dough for another time.
To cook the Gnocchi
Once the Ragu is cooked and tender remove from the heat. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Place the gnocchi in the pan and cook until they float to the surface – this will only take a couple of minutes. Drain the water from the gnocchi from the water and place them in a bowl.
Top with the rich meaty ragu, a few thyme flowers and a generous grating of parmesan (optional).
Too see the recipe in motion, check me out making it on Videojug… Let me know what you think.