Gnocchi in Bolognese Sauce
Bolognese gnocchi is comfort food at its best. And with the chilly temperature we've been having this week in the Bay Area, a warm bowl of potato gnocchi pasta in Bolognese sauce fits the bill.
It took some time to complete the meal but it was so worth it. I made everything from scratch. I started by simmering Bolognese sauce for over an hour. While the beef and tomatoes were cooking down in the sauce, I mashed potatoes and added flour to form the gnocchi. I also added roasted turnip to give texture to the dish.
I didn't add cheese to the dish because I've been trying to be healthy and hit the gym regularly, but I'm sure a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese wouldn't hurt the flavor. It’s up to you!
Yields: 8 servings4 turnips
1 pound ground beef, rinsed
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 sprig oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1-½ tablespoons salt
1 small carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 (28-ounce) can tomato purée
1 (14-ounce) can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
6 Yukon Gold potatoes
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Wash and peel the turnips. Trim the root and cut into cubes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt, ½ teaspoon of paprika and black pepper.
Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Place the turnips without crowding them. Roast the turnips for 40 minutes, until slightly browned and softened. Check doneness with a fork. Season with more salt if necessary. Set aside.
How to make Bolognese sauce:
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pot. Add the onions and cook until golden brown. Increase the heat and add 1 clove of garlic. Cook until fragrant. Add the whole sprig of oregano, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, cinnamon stick and ½ teaspoon of paprika. Once the paste is fragrant, decrease the heat and add the carrots, celery and chopped basil. Transfer to a platter.
Bring the heat back to high and add the ground meat. Separate the beef in the pan until the meat changes color; add the yogurt and red chili powder. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the meat occasionally. Add both the tomato purée and canned chopped tomatoes and the reserved vegetables. Wait for the mixture to reach a full boil, then immediately turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for about one and a half hours. Check seasoning.
Boiling the potatoes:
Peel the potatoes, cut them into 2-inch chunks and place them in a large pot. Add cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. It's important to start with cold water so the potatoes cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high (if you cook the potatoes at a full boil, they might fall apart). As soon as the water returns to a boil, cook for about 25-30 minutes. Test, using a fork; the potatoes should be slightly tender but still firm. Remove from the pot. Drain the potatoes thoroughly and let them cool a little (do not rinse and let the liquid evaporate).
Forming the gnocchi:
Reserve about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour.
Using a potato masher or a potato ricer, mash the potatoes. They should be fluffy and airy. Add ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and turmeric powder. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure the potatoes are cooled enough, so they're easy to handle. Add the rest of the flour and knead the dough until it's even. Do NOT over-mix. Add about 1 tablespoon of melted butter and 2 tablespoons of oil.
Slowly add the reserved 1/3 cup of flour and create 4 (1-¼" diameter) 16-inch logs. Using a paring knife, cut the logs into 1-¼" pieces.
Using the back of a fork, flatten each piece, flip over and fold the edges together to form a striped-pattern on the outside. This step will create moist, less dense pasta. Dust the formed gnocchi with flour.
Boiling the gnocchi:
Bring about 3 quarts of salted water to boil; you need a large amount of water. Add the gnocchi, (I cook them in 3 batches) bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. Cook the pasta for about 3-4 minutes total until the gnocchi float to the surface.
When the gnocchi are cooked, reserve about 1/3 cup of pasta water and drain the gnocchi (do NOT rinse). Let stand in a colander. Instead of draining them in a colander, you could also drain the gnocchi in a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to a hot pan (see next step).
In a large NON-STICK sauté pan, heat the rest of the olive oil. Add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add about 2 teaspoons of garlic and cook until slightly golden. Add the first batch of gnocchi pasta. Toss the gnocchi by moving the pan in circular motion (the pan should be lifted at a low angle to facilitate the movement). Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the pasta to a platter. Repeat with the 2 other batches of gnocchi pasta.
Once all the gnocchi is sautéed in butter, return them in the pan over high heat. Add the Bolognese sauce and the roasted turnips.
Serve warm. You could serve Parmesan cheese on the side (I didn't).
Count about 10 gnocchi per person.
I used canned tomatoes because they are picked at the peak of ripeness, which guarantees a sweet, delicious sauce.
The acidity from the yogurt acts like a meat tenderizer.Published By: on November 11, 2010.