The weather is getting cooler and the food is getting comfier!
I love, love, love, Bolognese sauce! It is so tasty with so much depth and flavor. I love loading up my Bolognese with lots of veggies! I would say I probably use twice the amount of onion, carrots, and celery than traditional recipes. Why? I feel it just adds so much more flavor to the sauce and plus it’s good nourishment! In addition, veal, beef, and pork are essential for this dish. Please don’t use straight-up chopped beef.
Regarding the gnocchi, I’m stuck on the ricotta version. It’s no more ricotta than the amount used to make cavatelli and they come out melt in your mouth delicious. I feel using the 00 Caputo flour helps make them even lighter. I don’t even bother with potato gnocchi lately. A little too heavy for me, not crazy about the texture, and it’s a challenge to get them soft and chewy. So.. before you say “I don’t like the texture of gnocchi” I suggest you give my ricotta gnocchi a chance.
So here is how I do mine . . .
We will make the gnocchi dough first so it has enough time to rest. The way I start my ricotta gnocchi is by mixing the exact ingredients I would use for my homemade manicotti, ravioli, or lasagna ricotta filling.
Place the ricotta in a strainer in the fridge and let it drain overnight.
Put the drained ricotta in a glass mixing bowl. Add the fresh cracked pepper, kosher or sea salt, nutmeg, a liberal amount of fresh chopped parsley (do a large chop on the parsley it makes the gnocchi look prettier and taste great), egg, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix well until all the ingredients form a semi-firm paste. I typically do not use mozzarella in any of my ricotta mixes. I like keeping it light with fresh herbs and spices such as nutmeg, course fresh cracked pepper, and fresh chopped parsley. I feel mozzarella is a drag on all of this.
At this point, we are going to start adding flour little by little. Start with a cup of flour, mix and then continue to slowly add flour until the mixture feels like a ball of sticky pizza dough. Once it gets to this consistency, dust the outside of the ball, wrap it tightly in saran wrap, and place it in the fridge. Leave it there the entire time you prepare the rest of the dish.
Now for the sauce. Let’s get all our veggies prepped first.
One of the important aspects of a nice Bolognese sauce is to get your veggies chopped with small consistent pieces. Not quite a mince but rather a smaller dice. Strive for perfect little cubes with the carrots and celery and just mince the onion. Smash a couple of garlic cloves and have your bay leaf, dried oregano, dried basil, and white wine ready. Also, have your tomatoes ready to go as well. Did I ever mention I love dried herbs? I don’t know why some view them as inferior to fresh herbs. Dried herbs are awesome too!
In a large frying or saute pan with lots of surface area add your olive oil. Just enough to line the bottom. No depth of oil is needed. Now add your minced veal, beef, and pork. Just get it browned. Do not be concerned with cooking it all the way through.
After browning, push the meat to one side of the pan and now add all your minced veggies to the clear side of the pan along with the smashed garlic clove and bay leaf which will be removed later. Just sautee for a few minutes to get a flavor going and mix all the contents together with the meat and crank up the heat. After a few minutes of high heat, add the white wine and stir until most of the wine is cooked off. Now add your tomatoes. Stir well, cover, and let simmer for one hour on very low heat.
While your sauce is simmering take the gnocchi dough out of the fridge. Flour a large wooden cutting board or wooden surface. Bare wood is the best to work on when working with pasta dough because it grabs the dough when you are rolling it. A smooth shiny surface is not ideal.
Divide your dough into manageable pieces and roll it out into about ¾ inch in diameter cylinders at whatever length you chose. Cut the cylinders into 1-inch length bite-size pieces.
Now dip a table fork in flour and hold it in your hand with the convex side facing out and the prongs on the cutting board. Place the bite-sized dough piece on the top of the fork and roll it down the prongs while pressing hard with your thumb on the other side. The ridges made from the fork and dimple from your thumb are for holding the sauce! Repeat until dough is finished. Do not let the gnocchi rest with the prong ridges facing down. Dust with flour if the dough starts to stick to the fork. Put your gnocchi aside in the open air for now.
Let’s go back to the sauce. After about 45 minutes of simmering, we are going to add the basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir well and let simmer for another 15 minutes.
Boil a pot of water and add the gnocchi. Make sure it’s a large enough pot where the gnocchi has plenty of room to swim around. Only add when the water is boiling vigorously. When the top of the water becomes foamy, spoon a ladle of foam into the meat sauce and stir. Once all the gnocchi float to the top, cook for another 3 minutes or so. Drain the gnocchi. Do your best to get the water out of the dimples, top with the sauce, and serve!
Note: I do not do a traditional dressing of the gnocchi and the sauce with this dish. I simply plate the gnocchi naked and spoon the sauce on top leaving some of the gnocchi plain. I do this because the gnocchi themselves are delicious! You can also serve this gnocchi with a beautiful browned butter and sage sauce!! Maybe next recipe!!
Thank you for visiting my blog. Hope you enjoyed this post!
For the Gnocchi
1 lb of ricotta strained overnight in the fridge
1 Tablespoon of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Whole egg
½ Teaspoon of kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon of fresh coarsely grated black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon of nutmeg
1 ½ tablespoon of coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ – 2 Cups of Caputo 00 flour or more
For the Bolognese Sauce
About a pound of chopped meatloaf mix (veal, beef, & pork)
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 small to medium size white onion, minced
2 small to medium-size carrots, finely chopped
2 small to medium-sized celery stalks, finely chopped
1 cup of Pino Griggio
1 12oz can of high-quality san Marzano crushed or coarsely blended tomatoes
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper
A pinch of dried oregano
A pinch of dried basil
2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
2 cloves of smashed garlic left whole (remove before serving)