Today is a grey, glum day in Pretoria. The kind of day which should be spent in bed watching Breaking Bad (Yes, we are way behind). Alas, I have to work and so the only thing making me feel better is the thought of this incredible, rustic beef ragu with delicate Parmesan gnocchi.
I made the ragu using the Jamie Oliver Philips HomeCooker as Philips had sent me the machine to test a couple of weeks ago. I used the homecooker without the stirring attachment and have to be honest, it was a dream to work with. The HomeCooker assembles really easily and is very easy to use. The only problem for me is that because I cook for upwards of 8 people every night, the HomeCooker is slightly small but for a family of 4/5, it will work brilliantly. I also like that there’s a steamer basket which allows you to cooke your entire meal in one pot.
Back to this recipe though, I took inspiration from the Pork ragu with roasted garlic gnocchi post I did awhile ago. I really think that gnocchi was made to sit alongside a rich, flavourful ragu to suck up all those delicious flavours. To compliment the rustic ragu, I flavoured the gnocchi with Parmesan which added depth without overpowering the ragu. The perfect recipe for this cold day (or colder months ahead up North).
- 1 kg chuck roast
- 2 red onions peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 x 400g tin tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 garlic cloves peeled, left whole
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 250 ml red wine
- 500 ml beef stock
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 kg baking/fluffy potatoes
- 75 g Parmesan finely grated
- 2 egg yolks
- 1-1.5 cups flour
- salt to taste
To make the pork ragu, set the homecooker (or your oven) to 160°c.
Place the beef, onions, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, soy sauce, spices, sugar and salt & pepper into a roasting dish with a lid. Add the wine & stock and cover.
Place in the oven (if you're using the oven) and allow to cook for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily. With the homecooker, you'll have to set it to 99 mins for the first round and see how tender the meat is at that point. You can set it for another hour or so after that.
In the meantime, make the gnocchi.
Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour until a skewer is easily inserted.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Halve the potatoes and scoop the flesh into a bowl.
Place the Parmesan into the bowl with the potatoes. Using a potato masher/fork, mash until there are no lumps.
Add the egg yolks and mix well.
Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time and mix in gently, you don’t want to over-work the dough. I only needed 1.5 cups of flour for my gnocchi but some mixtures might need a bit more. It’s best to make sure your potatoes are quite dry before adding the flour though as the more flour you add, the tougher your gnocchi will be.
When you’ve added enough flour to result in a soft dough, break tennis ball sized pieces off of the dough and roll into long strips on a floured surface. cut the strip into 1cm gnocchis and place on a tray covered with semolina until you are ready to cook them. If you like, you can also use a fork to make indents in the gnocchi which create little spaces to suck up more of the ragu sauce.
When the beef is cooked and soft, remove from the oven. Turn the heat up to 220°c (same with the homecooker). Shred the beef with two forks and place back in the sauce. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce if needed. Place the ragu back in the oven and allow to cook for another 20 minutes.
To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and drop the gnocchi in carefully. When they float to the surface they are ready. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place straight into the ragu.