Sunday, 10 January 2010

Gnocchi with Osso Bucco Ragu

I hadn't made gnocchi before, so I decided to follow Mario Batali's (of Babbo, Crocs Slippers and the Traveling Spain with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Bittman TV programme) from Babbo cookbook, a gift from Stephanie. While Mario does a gnocchi with oxtail ragu, I conveniently had veal shanks in my freezer, so I used that instead and made our classic osso bucco recipe to go with it. Karla, who loves my mom's tomato-based osso bucco, was in culinary heaven. Because I was only cooking for the two of us, I made a third of the recipe. However, it did not go as planned, as I mismeasured the ingredients and forgot to add salt. Thus, my gnocchi was slightly starchy, though it still managed to soak by the osso bucco jus, which cut the heaviness oh so slightly.

In general, both Karla and I have stopped ordering gnocchi at restaurants because we find it too dense and heavy, but an occasional craving occurs every now and then. Shredded osso bucco also tastes sumptuously satisfying on pieces of toasted crostini or French bread, topped with shavings of Asiago or Parmesan.

Mario's Basic Gnocchi:

Serves 12

3 pounds russet potatoes
2 cups AP-Flour
1 extra-large egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
Place whole potatoes in boiling water to cover. Bring to bowl, then cook at low boil until soft, 45 minutes.
While still warm, peel potatoes and pass them through vegetable mill or potato masher onto a clean pasta board.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil, and set up an ice bath with 6 cups of ice and water nearby.
Make a well in the centre of the potatoes and sprinkle all over with the flour.
Break the egg in the centre of the well, add salt, and using a fork, stir into the flour and potatoes as if you were making pasta. Once the egg is mixed in, bring the dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently for another 4 minutes, until the ball is dry to the touch.
Divide dough into 6 balls. Roll one ball at a time into a rope 3/4 inch in diameter and cut rope into 1-inch pieces. Flick pieces off a fork to score sides. Drop dough into boiling water and cook until they float to the surface, 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer gnocchi to ice bath. Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough and cook all gnocchi. Let them sit in the ice bath for a few minutes.
Drain gnocchi and transfer to a mixing bowl. Toss with canola oil and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours or until ready to serve.

To serve:

1 Gnocchi Recipe above
After braising osso bucco, remove meat slowly with tongs and shred with fork. Remember to scoop out marrows and mix into the meat mixture. Return meat and marrow to the pot with the tomato sauce, and mix until well incorporated. Season to taste.
To serve, scoop gnocchi into a bowl and mix with some osso bucco ragu. Top with shaved Parmesan and serve immediately with a glass of Italian red wine.

I picked up a bold bottle of Antonutti's Cabernet (for a reasonably priced $120.00) at Saporito, this Italian deli that opened recently in Happy Valley. Check it out, thedelicatessen sells a variety of Italian products and has a small section selling fresh product. There's a good selection of cold cuts, cheeses, wines and prepared foods, and an intimate outdoor patio at the back of the deli. I had an excellent vanilla meringue layer cake. Their butternut squash ravioli with poppy seeds and mozzarella was light and tasty, while the grilled squab was simple but done well.

Saporito Delicatessen
G/F Sports Mansion
No. 161 Wong Nai Chung Road
Happy Valley, Hong Kong
Business Hours: 10am-9pm (Monday to Sunday)

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