Mark LaBrooy's beef bolognese with potato gnocchi

Pan-fried gnocchi with bolognese sauce from Three Blue Ducks owner-chef Mark LaBrooy.
Pan-fried gnocchi with bolognese sauce from Three Blue Ducks owner-chef Mark LaBrooy. Photo: William Meppem

Some people think it's weird to put milk in bolognese, but I think it makes for a softer mince and gives it a bit of creaminess. The longer you cook the sauce, the better it's going to be. Don't be afraid of making gnocchi, it's as easy as making mashed potato – if you can make mash, then you can make gnocchi.

Beef bolognese with potato gnocchi


Potato gnocchi

  • 1kg Dutch cream potatoes
  • 400g plain flour
  • 150g grated parmesan
  • 4 egg yolks


  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more as required
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 chorizo sausage, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 bulb garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 long red chillies, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • ¼ bunch thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
  • ¼ bunch marjoram
  • a few sprigs of oregano
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 100ml red wine
  • 100ml full cream milk
  • 2 x 400g cans organic crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil leaves, to serve
  • shaved pecorino, to serve


For the gnocchi

  1. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until soft.
  2. Once cooked, remove from the water. Mash the potato while it is still hot. Add the flour and parmesan. Slowly add in the egg yolk, making sure not to scramble them, and mix until you get a firm dough.
  3. Roll out the dough into 3cm logs and cut to desired size. Set this aside until pasta sauce is ready. The gnocchi will cook very quickly.

For the bolognese sauce

  1. Firstly, heat up olive oil in a pot over high heat and sear off the mince. Make sure the pot is nice and hot so that the mince achieves a nice, deep colour. Add in the chorizo and cook until caramelised.
  2. Next, add in the onion, garlic and chilli and cook until soft and translucent. Add the carrot, celery, oregano, marjoram and tomato paste. If you notice your mince is a touch dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil to help fry the tomato paste.
  3. You will notice some sticking in the pot, this is when we add red wine to deglaze. Once the sticking has come off, add in the tomatoes and milk, and season generously.
  4. Leave the sauce on medium heat to simmer for 2 hours or longer. Leave the lid slightly open to let the sauce steam but also release some water content, to help thicken up the sauce.

To assemble

  1. To a pot of boiling water, add the gnocchi and remove, using a slotted spoon, once it floats to the surface.
  2. Add olive oil to a hot pan and fry the gnocchi to get nice colour.
  3. Plate up the gnocchi and add the bolognese sauce on top. Garnish with freshly picked basil and shaved pecorino.

Serves 4-5

This recipe is from Good Food's new TV show, Good Food Kitchen, premiering on Channel 9 at 1pm Saturday, October 9, or catch up on 9Now.