Rich and saucy ...Gnocchi with ragu. Photo: WILLIAM MEPPEM
The gnocchi can be made ahead of time and frozen, but is best kept for only a week or two. I also like to serve the gnocchi with a simple fresh tomato and basil sauce in the summer.
The hearty ragù works with all sorts of meats - chicken, oxtail, rabbit, pork or duck. Freshen it up by grating fresh lemon rind over the top as you're serving.
GNOCCHI WITH BEEF RAGU
Sweet and zesty ... orange ricotta tart.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
400g beef mince
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
6 cups chicken stock
freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
700g Bintje potatoes
11/2 cups plain flour, plus more for kneading
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp sea salt
For the ragu, heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-low heat, then add the oil. Add the onion, garlic, 1 tbsp parsley and bay leaf, and cook gently until softened, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium and add the beef, stirring until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, sugar, salt and stock, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 11/2 hours or until tender and thick.
For the gnocchi, wash the potatoes and place them in a large pot. Cover with cold salted water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 25 minutes.
Drain the cooked potatoes in a colander and let them cool enough so you can handle them. Remove skins, and leave skinned potatoes to sit for 10 minutes more so that any remaining moisture evaporates.
Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer onto a clean bench, add sifted flour and make a well, then add the eggs and salt. Using your hands, gently mix until just combined. Using the back of your hand, push the potato and flour mix until it starts to come together.
Divide the dough into 4 portions. Roll each portion into a thin log. Using a knife, cut the logs into 2cm pillows.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add a good handful of salt. Cook the gnocchi in batches for 2 minutes or until the gnocchi floats to the surface. Using a perforated spoon or spider, share the gnocchi between 6 bowls and spoon the ragù over the top. Sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley and serve with freshly grated parmesan.
ORANGE RICOTTA TART
350g plain flour
250g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly whisked with 30g water filling
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
250g ricotta, drained
75g icing sugar
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tbsp Grand Marnier or orange liqueur
125ml double cream, plus extra to serve
Serves 6 to 8
For the tart base, lightly grease a 25cm tart pan with a removable base.
To make the pastry, process the flour, butter and sugar together in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the whisked egg yolk and water to the food processor and process until the mixture just comes together. Using your hands, form the mixture into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface to 5mm thick. Line the prepared tart pan with the pastry and trim the edges. Cover and refrigerate for a further 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cover the pastry case with parchment paper and fill with baking weights (dried beans or rice). Bake for 15 minutes until pale golden brown. Remove the weights and set aside.
For the filling, place the egg, egg yolk, ricotta, sugar, orange zest and liqueur in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Whip the cream in a small bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the ricotta mixture and spoon into the prepared tart case.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Allow tart to cool on a wire rack. Serve with extra double cream, if desired. The orange ricotta tart is also fantastic served simply with vanilla ice-cream.
SOMETHING TO DRINK
Hailing from New Zealand's Awatere Valley, a sub region of the Marlborough district, the 2011 Vavasour Pinot Noir ($29) is grown from vines planted in 1985. Its spicy notes and layers of rich fruit, balancing fine acidity and soft tannins, make it a great match with the gnocchi.
Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Dominic Smith.