Pasta Sunday is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Welcome back to Pasta Sunday where each issue I share a new recipe, some thoughts, some gifs, some wine and whatever else makes sense!
This Sunday we are enjoying a 10/10 short rib ragu that will taste amazing the day you make it, and even better the next day so this can easily be made in advance. I can’t believe it’s taken 22 issues of this newsletter for me to share a gnocchi recipe with you, but here we are. I delve into some detail on potatoes, the “to egg or not to egg” debate, and more further on.
Still working your way through some leftover panettone from Christmas? A sweet recipe for this tiramisu wannabe can be found below (spoiler alert: coffee and orange peel are a match made in heaven).
Finally, just a moment of thank you and gratitude for all of you here, I can’t believe thousands of people read this. Mind = blown. And as always, I love to hear from you - what recipes do you want to see from me? What don’t you want to see? What can I be doing better?
Gnocchi di Patate with Short Rib Ragu
The oddest thing about the period between Christmas and going back to work in the new year here in Australia, is that as soon as Christmas Day is done and dusted, it feels like you’re suddenly launched into summer. Christmas decorations be gone! It’s all about mangos and the beach from here on out.
Choosing to bring you a short rib ragu at this time of year - at least for a portion of those reading this - might seem out of place, but personally, there is always a time for a slow-cooked, meaty ragu in my book. Regardless of the weather, I think this makes for a perfect Sunday lunch.
I have an extensive list of recipes for this series that I’ve either developed or are in development, and these short ribs have been on the back burner for some time. While they’re not the cheapest of cuts to acquire, for an indulgent lunch they really are quite special - and if like me you live in a two person household, this recipe yields enough for 6 so there will be leftovers galore.
I served this with some fresh parsley, however a gremolata would also work really well if you’re looking for something to cut through the richness of the sauce. You can find a recipe for that here. Otherwise, this is best enjoyed with a smattering of parmigiano reggiano, and a glass of wine.
1.2kg potatoes - the variety does matter, I like to go with a semi-starchy potato that work well for mashing, like Yukon Gold or Désirée, or alternatively a starchy spud like King Edward or Russet.
Tipo 00 flour - amount will depend on the cooked weight of the potato (see recipe for details)
Beef short rib ragu
1.4kg beef short ribs (as your butcher to cut them into smaller pieces so they can fit in your pan more easily, if you need to) - roughly 6 pieces
2 celery sticks
1 brown onion
1 leek, bitter green ends can be discarded or saved in the freezer for stock scraps
4-5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 heaped tbsp tomato pureé/paste
200ml red wine - I used Chianti for this recipe
400ml beef stock
1 can San Marzano tomatoes, strained of their juices (save the juices for another use!)
2 bay leaves
Parmesan rind (optional)
Big handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to serve
Parsley, to serve
Preheat an oven to 180c/350f
Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and do nothing to them. Once the oven is preheated, bake for 70 minutes or until very fork tender.
Carefully cut the potatoes in half to aid the release of any steam as they cool, and when cool enough to handle scoop the flesh out from the skins into a bowl set on scales so you measure what the cooked weight of the potatoes are.
If using a semi-starchy potato, measure 1/4 of the potato weight of tipo 00 flour (e.g. if your cooked potatoes weigh 800g, measure 200g tipo 00 flour). If you are using a very starchy potato, consider adding up to 1/3 of the potato weight in tipo 00 flour.
Pass the potatoes through a ricer1 and spread out on your work surface - a wooden board is great if you have one as it’ll continue to absorb extra moisture from the potatoes.
Sprinkle over the flour and use a bench scraper to cut it into the potato. Continue to do this around all sides until you have a crumbly, sand-like mix.
Start bringing the crumbly potato dough together with your hands as gently as possible so as not to overwork the gluten - it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth like a pasta dough - and we certainly don’t want to knead the dough.
Once you have formed a ball, divide this into 8 equal parts and roll each out to a long and thick sausage - again, make sure to use a gentle touch.
Dust in flour and use a knife to cut thumb-sized pieces.
Dust in more flour and gently toss the gnocchi around to coat evenly.
Set aside on a baking tray lined with a clean tea towel or lightly dusted with flour until ready for use.
NB: gnocchi is best when prepared and cooked same day, I don’t recommend trying to store this in either the fridge or freezer as the dough can become oxidised and mushy/gummy.
The sauce and finishing touches
Bring the short ribs to room temperature and pat dry to remove any excess moisture. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Blend the celery, carrot, onion and leeks to a fine paste-like texture and set aside.
Add a couple of tablespoons of EVOO to a searing hot sauteuse pan (or a pan large enough to make the ragu) and brown the shorts ribs on all sides - remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the blended vegetable mix to the same pan and sauté for a few minutes before adding the garlic.
Make space in the pan and add the tomato pureé - let it cook/caramelise for a minute or so before stirring through the vegetables.
Nestle the short ribs back into the pan, pour in the wine and reduce by 1/3.
Add the beef stock, tomatoes, bay leaves and parmesan rind if using, bring to a boil then reduce to barely a simmer - cover and gently cook away for 3-3.5 hours.
After this time the meat should be completely tender - melt in your mouth - and the bones should pull out with complete ease.
After removing the bones, shred the meat while still in the pan with two forks - discard the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Season to taste.
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a gentle boil (this is important) - and cook the gnocchi in small batches. Keep your eye on them for as soon as they float, they are done. Use a slotted spoon to collect floating gnocchi and transfer them directly to the ragu.
Add a smattering of grated Parmigiano directly to the ragu and toss to marry.
Serve family style or divide between bowls - garnish with chopped parsley and extra grated Parmigiano, of course.
Cooking this ragu in advance - this ragu tastes even better the next day. When reheating, add a splash of water to the sauce and gently heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
If you’re interested in learning a little more about gnocchi with a step by step photographic guide, getting my suggested wine pairing, Sunday soundtrack AND a recipe that uses up and leftover panettone you might still have from Christmas, then why not consider becoming a paid subscriber and help keep Pasta Sunday going - thank you ❤️
Let’s make gnocchi
As soon as I posted this reel, I got a few comments addressing two main gnocchi areas of contention and debate: the type of potato used, and why there are no eggs in my recipe.
The type of potato you use for gnocchi is important. Yes, you can absolutely make do with whatever you have - this is my mantra in the kitchen - but not all potatoes are the same and I think especially for this gnocchi recipe, that doesn’t rely on eggs as a failsafe binder, choosing the right potato is especially important.
You’ll often see recipes for gnocchi call for a floury or starchy potato - but what does that mean? And wait, why aren’t there eggs in this recipe?
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Pasta Sunday to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.