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.

Anne Burrell’s Gnocchi

Serves: 4 – 6

This is an exceptional dish.

Visually beautiful, restaurant quality.

My mother gave me the recipe and we cooked it last weekend; my mother said it was the best gnocchi I would ever cook and hands down, she was right.

An essential key to it is the gnocchi, where instead of mixing through the flour when the gnocchi is hot, in this recipe, you allow the gnocchi to cool completely. The result is a light and fluffy gnocchi, completely unlike the hard, floury gnocchi we are so used to eating.

It is almost as if they are not there.

The sauce is fabulous; rich, warm, filling.

With some shaved pecorino to serve, this is a dinner party keeper where everyone will ask you for the recipe only a few bites in. It just comes together.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

5 large baking or mashing potatoes
2 eggs
Grated parmesan
2+ cups flour
Salt and pepper
1½ cups frozen peas, defrosted
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
Pinch of chili flakes
125gm prosciutto, cut into lardons
2 cups Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
½ bunch chives, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C and bake the potatoes for 1 hour or until tender.
  2. While the potatoes are still hot peel and pass them through a ricer or food mill on to an oven tray lined with baking paper, and then refrigerate until very cold.
  3. Beat together the eggs, ¾ cup grated Parmesan and 1+ tbsp salt and pour on to the potatoes. Cover the potatoes with 2+ cups flour and mix all together with fingers until the dough is homogeneous and slightly moist, adding more flour (and salt) if necessary.
  4. Form the dough into long ropes about 3cm thick, cut into 2 cm lengths, cover generously with flour, place in a single layer on paper dusted with flour and either use or freeze immediately.  [NB: once frozen the gnocchi can be stored in plastic bags indefinitely, and can go directly from the freezer into salted boiling water.]
  5. Sauté the garlic and chilli flakes in some olive oil and then discard the garlic when it becomes golden brown.
  6. Add the prosciutto and sauté until it begins to become crispy.
  7. Add the mushrooms, sauté, and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add the stock and simmer until it has reduced by half.
  9. Add the butter and peas and correct the seasoning.
  10. Drop half the gnocchi into boiling salted water and cook until they float and become puffy. Drain the gnocchi and add to the sauce.
  11. Add 4 tbsp grated parmesan and the chives, and serve with more grated parmesan or pecorino if you have it.