Slow braised Shoulder of Lamb Ragù with Gnocchi

Slow braised Shoulder of Lamb Ragù with Gnocchi

Serves: 6 – 8

A few weeks back, we slow cooked a wonderful lamb shoulder for lamb, cumin mayonnaise, braised onion and rocket rolls.

As with pretty much any slow-cooked meat – stuffed in a baguette – it was a pretty amazing treat.

Though – as happens with a 2kg piece of lamb shoulder – there was plenty of shredded lamb left over.

So we borrowed from this recipe by James Martin, a talented British chef I’ve followed, to make this equally amazing ragù.

Two points to be made.

Firstly, in the lamb shoulder we cooked for the lamb rolls, we used currants, orange rind and verjuice whereas this recipe calls for a much more traditional thyme, rosemary, red wine sort of combo. After all is said and done, you’ll be left with a rich, soft lamb either way. Yes, there will be nuances depending on how you cook your lamb though they’re nuances you’ll soon get over.

Do it either way or then some.

Secondly, we used some frozen gnocchi we had left over, using the amazing Anne Burrell gnocchi I have previously typed up. I have typed up James Martin’s gnocchi because it is quite a cool approach and no doubt it is very good knowing him, though if you get a chance, try Anne Burrell’s go at it. It is sublime.

This is rich, screw-you Sunday cooking at its best.

Ingredients

Slow-braised shoulder of lamb

1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 2kg shoulder of lamb
1 bulb garlic, skin left on, cloves separated
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
4 sprigs rosemary, chopped
200ml red wine
200ml lamb or beef stock

Ragù

200gm pancetta, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
400ml can Italian tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
175ml red wine
500ml lamb stock (we used chicken stock)
6 tbsp fresh basil, torn

Gnocchi

4 medium potatoes
200 – 300gm salt
75gm plain flour plus extra for dusting
50gm grated Parmesan
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

150gm Parmesan, freshly grated to serve

Method

For the lamb

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Rub the oil into the lamb shoulder and season with salt and pepper. Place the lamb in a deep baking tray and surround it with the garlic, herbs, red wine and stock and roast in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat the 120c, cover the lamb with the aluminium foil and continue to cook for 4 ½ hour. Remove and leave to cool. Once cool enough to handle, shred the meat.

For the ragù

  1. Heat a large casserole pan until hot, add the pancetta and fry for 3 – 4 minutes or until the pancetta softens and the fat begins to melt. Add the olive oil and then the garlic and onion and fry gently for 1 – 2 minutes until softened. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another minute or two.
  2. Stir in the shredded meat and then add the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, breaking apart the tomatoes.
  3. Stir in the tomato puree and cook for a further minute. Add the red wine and simmer until the volume of the liquid has reduced by one quarter. (At this stage I also had a red wine and reduced it by one quarter.)
  4. Add the stock and return the ragù to the boil. Season, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes or until the ragù has thickened. Finish with the fresh basil.

For the gnocchi

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Lightly score or prick the potatoes. Spread out the salt on a baking tray to make a bed of salt and sit the potatoes on top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until tender.
  3. Allow the potatoes to cool until comfortable to handle. Cut in half and spoon the cooked potatoes out of the skins. Finely mash the potatoes or put through a potato ricer. Add the flour, Parmesan and egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Keep mixing until the potato forms a dough.
  4. Working on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into four. Roll each quarter into a sausage shape around 20cm long and cut into 2cm pieces. Shake off any excess flour.
  5. Heat a large saucepan of boiling salted water and add the gnocchi; cook for 1 – 3 minutes or until they start floating on the top of the water; drain and drizzle with a little olive oil.

To serve, stir the ragù through the gnocchi and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on top.

Matt Preston’s Bolognese

Serves: 6

As much as I would like to cook something different and a little bit fancy each night, that trick doesn’t always work around here.

When Nat wants comfort and the boys want comfort, that’s what you do.

This bolognese is the best of both worlds.

It’s comfortable and yet, with the excellent soffritto and four or five hours of cooking time, it is certainly on the fancier side of bolognese. Sizzler buffet this is not.

Next time, I’d try to dial it up further with some milk to the soffritto and maybe some anchovies; perhaps veal and pork mince rather than just beef, though the bacon makes a nice touch.

As it was, it was more than fine.

The boys wolfed it down and Oliver asked for it in his lunchbox. Nat said it was the best she has ever had.

This dish won’t change the world though I know I will be asked to cook it again and again and I can certainly live with that!

Ingredients

Olive oil
40g butter
2 medium carrots, diced small
3 medium brown onions, diced small
4 bacon rashers cut into fingernail size tiles
2 celery sticks, diced small
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped and crushed
3 tbsp tomato paste
1kg beef mince
1 lemon; 4cm piece of peel/rind and then halved for juicing
500ml red wine
3 bay leaves
Splash Worcestershire sauce
2 cans tinned tomatoes
500ml beef stock

1 large pack of egg tagliatelle
150g Italian parmesan cheese, grated
1 loaf crusty bread and a green salad for serving

Method

  1. For the soffritto: Heat a heavy pan over a low-medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and the butter and heat.
  2. Saute the onion, carrots and bacon. After a few minutes, add in the celery and cook the vegetables slowly until translucent. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and stir through. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for a further few minutes.
  3. Set the soffritto aside in a bowl.
  4. Add more olive oil to the pan and when hot, brown the mince. Add the browned meat to the soffritto.
  5. Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with the red wine. When the wine has reduced by half, add back the meat, soffritto, bay leaves and a couple of good dashes of Worcestershire sauce, lemon peel, tomatoes and stock. Stir.
  6. Season with salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice from one half of the lemon. Reserve the other lemon half.
  7. Bring to the boil covered, remove the lid and turn the heat right down. Cook gently for four hours, turning occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn. Finish the red wine left over in the bottle and put your feet up.
  8. Taste, season and get it thick, rich and dark.
  9. Cook your pasta, make your salad, grate your cheese, break the bread and enjoy!

Ravioli al sole with Truffle Butter broth and Pecorino

 

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Stupefacente!
Serves: 2 – 4 as a starter

Late last year, I typed up Armando Percuoco’s Truffle Egg Pasta, a gorgeous – and outrageous – pasta made famous at his restaurant, Buon Ricordo.

In my write-up of the recipe, I said do it and certainly, if you haven’t, I still highly recommend you do.

Though if you have, here is your next recipe along the same line.

It is from Tobie Puttock from whose book The Chef Gets Healthy we have been cooking recently. This recipe however, isn’t about getting healthy.

It’s about living the good life.

In his foreword, Tobie explains that he was taught the recipe by Gennaro Contaldo who in turn is famously Jamie Oliver’s Italian mentor; Tobie ran the restaurant Fifteen for Jamie Oliver.

So there is also a bit of heritage to it all as well.

Anyway, we cooked this as a starter a few weeks ago and it is excellent. Actually, more like superb.

Truffle, pasta, butter, ricotta, pecorino and egg superb. Poaching the egg in the stock after blanching the pasta in the boiling water is a neat trick with the ultimate treat being a runny, yellow egg yolk opening up all over the pasta as you eat it.

Yum!

For by-far the best result, make your own pasta and have a fun afternoon in the kitchen like we did. And an incredible starter on your hands following that.

Do it!

Ingredients

⅓ cup (80gm) fresh ricotta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp grated pecorino, plus extra to serve
100gm salted butter, softened
1 tbsp truffle oil (or 2 tsp truffle paste)
40cm thin fresh pasta sheet
4 free-range egg yolks
300ml vegetable stock

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Place ricotta on a lined baking tray, season then drizzle with 2 tsp of olive oil. Bake for 12 minutes or until slightly browned and dry. Cool. Mix ricotta with pecorino, 2 tsp olive oil and a pinch of talk and cover and chill until needed.
  2. Combine butter and truffle oil (or paste) in a bowl. Cover and chill until needed.
  3. Lay pasta flat on a bench. Cut into eight, 10cm squares. Shape ricotta into 4 rounds. Place each one in the centre of 4 pasta squares. Lightly flatten the ricotta with your palm and with your fingers, make a deep well in the centre. Pop an egg yolk in each well.
  4. Brush a little water around the pasta edges then carefully top with the remaining pasta sheets. Use your fingers and a fork to seal the pasta, pushing out as much air as possible while taking care not to break the yolk.
  5. Gently heat the stock in a large frying pan over a low heat. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
  6. Plunge the ravioli into the boiling water for 45 seconds then carefully remove with a slotted spoon and place in the stock, egg yolk side up to finish cooking.
  7. Add truffled butter, in pieces and gently shake pan for 3 minutes until it melts into the stock and the pasta is al dente.
  8. Season, divide ravioli and sauce among bowls, then top with extra pecorino.

Spaghetti with Smothered’ Onions and Parmesan

Serves: 4

This is a fantastic pasta.

I cooked it a few years back for dinner with a friend and despite almost an hour and a half of ribbing that I was cooking a vegetarian dinner – and one primary around onions at that – the ribbing pretty quickly wrapped up after plating.

The flavours are just beautiful. The simplicity, depth, warmth and completeness of it all is just so comforting. The sweetness and texture of the onions after almost one and half hours of cooking. The parmesan. The pasta. I’m excited just thinking about it!

Read those ingredients and then the method and seriously tell me you aren’t thinking how good this dish would be!

(I think I have no choice but to cook this again this weekend!)

Ingredients

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions (700gm in all), using a combination of white and red, very thinly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
2 rosemary sprigs
⅔ cup (160ml) dry white wine
2 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
500gm spaghetti
⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan

Method

  1. Place the oil, onion, bay leaves and rosemary in a large frypan. Cover and place over a very low heat. Gently cook, stirring occasionally for at least 45 minutes until the onion is extremely soft.
  2. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, for another 20 minutes or until onion is a deep golden colour. Any liquid should have evaporated by now.
  3. Season well with salt and pepper (to balance the sweetness of the onion).
  4. Add the wine, increase the heat to high and cook for 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated. Stir in the parsley, cover and keep warm.
  5. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in salted water according to instructions and al dente. Drain then add to the pan with the onions and toss over medium heat to combine well.
  6. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl, top with parmesan then toss thoroughly and serve.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves: 4

Almost everyone claims to have an amazing pasta recipe in their repertoire.

Often, this is a Carbonara.

For me, Carbonara is the king of pastas, be it spaghetti, fettucine or farfalle. Indeed, it is very rare for me to go past a Carbonara in an Italian restaurant, especially when I know it will be one of those terrible though amazing cream-based numbers with enough calories to whack an elephant.

This recipe – originally from my mother – is one I have been cooking since I was a teenager. In fact, for as long as I can remember cooking, I have been doing this number.

It is perfect after a long day at the beach or shopping. Bottle of wine, something on TV and you will be in absolute heaven.

Ingredients

9 slices bacon, trimmed and julienned
6 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
½ c julienned ham or prosciutto
12 tbsp grated parmesan + extra to sprinkle
6 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper
Spaghetti or other pasta

Method

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Brown the bacon and pour off any fat. Add the olive oil, butter and ham and sauté for 5 minutes without browning.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and beaten eggs. Place over heat only sufficiently to firm up the sauce.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and pour over spaghetti.
  5. No regrets.

My Arrabiata

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So hot. So good.

Serves: 4 – 6

This dish has real significance for me.

It was the first meal I cooked when I moved out of home, a recipe I adapted from Neil Perry and adapt every time depending on what is in the pantry and the fridge. Try it with torn basil, a pinch of sugar, freshly chopped chilli, whatever you want.

The key is in the length of cooking. The longer you can sweat the onions and the more slowly you can reduce the sauce, the better and better it will be. Forget that stuff from the local pizza shop, add lots of chilli and two hours over the stove and this takes on a new dimension.

Add this recipe to your repertoire and know it like the back of your hand. It will make clear to your lady friend that you can turn a pack of bacon and a few things from the cupboard into an amazing, hot and smoky pasta: it worked for me!

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 good pinches chilli flakes
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, halved (half a punnet)
1 can tomatoes
1 tbsp capers, drained
2 tbsp black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
Good handful of ham, roughly chopped
10 rashers of bacon cut into lardons
Salt and pepper
Penne, spaghetti, whatever
Ground parmesan
Chopped Italian parsley

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a low heat and add the onions, garlic, chilli flakes and good pinch of salt and sweat as slowly as you can without letting stick to the bottom of the pan; around 20 – 30 minutes.
  2. Separately, cook the bacon in a pan until golden. Drain and set aside.
  3. Add the tomatoes, ham, capers and olives, combine with the onion mixture and cook for a minute. Add the bacon and can of tomatoes as well as a can of water.
  4. Bring to the boil and then drop to a low simmer.
  5. Cook for an hour to an hour and a half and longer if you can. The key is to removing as much liquid from the sauce as slowly as you can.
  6. Check the seasoning and chilli and adjust as necessary.
  7. Cook the pasta, drain and combine with the sauce.
  8. Serve with plenty of grated parmesan and parsley.
  9. Enjoy your reward.

Donna Hay’s classic spaghetti and meatballs

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Yes, they are not cooked at this point.

Serves: 4 – 6

Nat and I don’t have nearly as many long, liquid lunches as we would like to.

But on occasions, the stars align and there we are, contemplating a third dessert whilst working our way through the cheese plate and a fancy red of some description.

Cooking and eating pasta is also about a rare as these long lunch occasions.

And that’s because the two are linked.

For you should only eat pasta when nothing else will do.

And nothing else will do than pasta after a long lunch and a few bottles of vino.

And so here we were, a long lunch at Gowings completed and ready for our pasta hit.

Enjoy this one. It is everything you’ll want and nothing you won’t. Just make sure you make it in advance like I did.

Ingredients

1½ c fresh white breadcrumbs
½ c milk
500g veal (or beef) mince
500g pork mince
2 eggs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ c sage leaves, finely chopped
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, extra, crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 c (250ml) beef stock
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
¼ c thyme leaves, chopped
500g spaghetti
1 c basil leaves
Finely grated parmesan, to serve

Method

  1. Place the breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the milk is absorbed.
  2. Add the beef and pork mince, eggs, garlic, sage, salt and pepper and mix well to combine. Using wet hands, roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a deep, large frying pan over high heat. Cook the meatballs in batches, turning frequently, for 4–5 minutes or until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining oil, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 5–7 minutes or until lightly golden. Add the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar, stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock, tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper, stir to combine and bring to the boil.
  5. Add the meatballs and simmer for 15–20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and the meatballs are cooked through.
  6. While the meatballs are cooking, place the spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water and cook for 8–10 minutes or until al dente.
  7. Drain and serve the spaghetti topped with the meatballs, basil leaves and parmesan.

Neil Perry’s Wagyu Bolognese

 

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Best served to Captains of Industries.

Serves: 4 Kings and Queens

This is undeniably the Bentley of Bolognese.

It is simply magnificent. Like only Rockpool Bar & Grill could do.

I found the very best meat I could, I more than doubled parts of the cooking time and I found an amazing, thick Italian fettuccine to serve it with.

It is worth every second and cent you can throw at it. And when you reveal to your stunned guests that they’ve just silently eaten boring old spag bol, people will think you’re some of undiscovered Gordon Ramsay and immediately demand you sign up for Masterchef.

If only they knew all you had to do was spend half your night in the kitchen the day before prepping and cooking.

I have slightly adapted this as I did it. And don’t cut any corners. Finely chop everything, skin and deseed those tomatoes. Caremalise the veges on the lowest heat for as long as you can.

Ingredients

600gm minced ground Wagyu (I used Wagyu blade steak ground very coarsely)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
100gm speck, finely diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
400ml full bodies red wine
1.2kg vine ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, diced
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and chopped
500gm fettuccine 

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and speck, season to taste with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or more, until the vegetables have caremalised but are not burnt.
  3. Add the minced Wagyu, season with salt and cook, breaking up the beef with a spoon, for 5 minutes or until the beef is well browned. This will take much longer in practice as the liquid exits the beef; you’re done with the beef is browning or capable of browning and the juices have burnt off.
  4. Add the wine and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
  5. Add the tomato and simmer for about 45 minutes or until thickened. Add the thyme, check the seasoning.
  6. Combine the sauce with the cooked fettuccini.

Serve with 1 very small handful flat-leaf parsley, chiffonade, freshly ground pepper and freshly grated parmesan.

Spaghetti with crushed peas, mint and pancetta

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Beautiful colours.

Serves: 4 – 6

I found this recipe in the 2015 Gourmet Traveller Annual Cookbook.

Having not had pasta for months, I had a real hankering; keen to cook something that wasn’t entirely outrageous and thus setting me back two weeks of walking and running, this recipe was it and what a great recipe it is.

It is one of those nice and simple, nobody is going be upset, Sunday lunch pastas. It’s clean, fresh and children friendly. It certainly looks the part with a big salad or two and some crusty bread.

Yum.

Ingredients

400gm dried spaghetti
50ml olive oil
80gm mild pancetta, diced
¼ onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50ml dry white wine
150ml chicken stock
250gm frozen peas
½ c coarsely torn mint, plus extra to serve
Finely grated pecorino pepato to serve

Method

  1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan with a tablespoon or two of the pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add pancetta and cook until it starts to crisp (3 – 4 minutes). Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender (3 – 4 minutes). Deglaze the pan with wine, add stock and bring to a simmer. Add peas, simmer until tender (2 – 3 minutes), remove from the heat, season to taste and coarsely crush the peas.
  3. Toss pea mixture through pasta, season again if necessary and serve hot with pecorino pepato and extra mint.

Tagliatelle with shaved parsnip, pancetta and sage

Serves: 4

This neat little pasta is one I found it in Karen Martini’s Cooking at Home. I think she is a really good home cook and everything I have cooked of hers has been a success.

I used fresh pasta and substituted the spicy pancetta (the recipe asked for) for the pancetta I could find at the supermarket.

Tuesday night sorted!

Ingredients

300gm tagliatelle (or fettuccini)
1 parsnip, peeled
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 – 12 slices of (spicy) pancetta (I cut the pancetta into large pieces, though that is not the recipe)
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 handfuls of sage leaves
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
100ml white wine
150ml pouring cream
50hm shaved parmesan
1 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Cook the pasta, drain and set-aside; add a little olive oil and keep warm, ensuring it does not stick together.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler to cut the parsnips into fine shavings (discarding the fibrous centre).
  3. Heat half the oil in a heavy fry-pan over a medium-to-high heat, and cook the pancetta until browned and crispy.
  4. Add the garlic, sage, chilli and parsnip and remaining oil (if necessary) and cook until the parsnip is crisp.
  5. Pour in the wine and cook for 2 minutes and then add the cream.
  6. Add the pasta and toss.
  7. Add the parmesan and lemon juice, season and serve.