Veal Ragu with Potato Gnocchi

Veal Ragu with Potato Gnocchi

The conundrum of perfect potato gnocchi: How can they be so light yet also so soulful and satiating? The accompanying veal ragu, a resonant, warming, slow-cooked variant on the classic Bolognese, was designed for a cold winter night and is worthy of your best bottle of Barbera.


For the Gnocchi

  • 2 cups plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • ½ pound all-purpose flour (about 1 ¾ cups), plus more for surface

For the Ragu

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 to 5 pounds veal shanks, cut 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally, ¼ inch thick

  • 1 celery stalk, cut diagonally, ¼ inch thick

  • 1 cup dry red wine

  • 2 cups canned pureed tomatoes

  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • 5 sprigs thyme

  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Make the gnocchi: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread 2 cups salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Place potatoes on top of salt, and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly, then peel. Press potatoes through a ricer onto a clean baking sheet, and spread loosely. Let cool.

  2. Turn potatoes onto a surface, shape into a mound, and form a well in the center. Pour egg into well, add remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and mix with a fork. Add flour gradually, kneading by hand until just combined.

  3. On a lightly floured work surface, divide dough into 10 pieces. Roll each into a 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut ropes into 1/2-inch pieces. Press each piece to make a depression in the center, or press gently against tines of a fork. Arrange on a lightly floured baking sheet in a single layer. Cover with plastic, and freeze for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 months).

  4. Make the ragu: Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season veal generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, and cook for 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery, and cook for 4 minutes. Stir in wine, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute.

  5. Add browned veal, tomatoes, stock, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook until veal is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer veal to a dish, reserving liquid. Skim fat from liquid. Discard bay leaf and thyme. Remove meat from bones, shredding into bite-size pieces. Return to pot. Season with salt and pepper.

  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook a few gnocchi at a time, stirring gently. Cook just until they float, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to a colander to drain. Divide gnocchi among bowls, toss with ragu, and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Cook's Notes

The key to making light and airy gnocchi is using minimal flour. To do this, let the potatoes dry out after boiling, and don't overknead the dough.

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