Just a short post today, it has been a rough couple of weeks battling the ever complicated onslaught of flu, work, personal life and trip planning – my upcoming trip to the United States is possibly the only thing keeping me sane at the moment. Counting down the days until we jet off for a month long adventure keeps me working hard through everything that’s been thrown at me lately.
Sick at home, bored out of my mind (yes, there’s only so much day-time TV one can watch) and desperate for something to do…
Gnocchi with braised beef sauce seemed like a good idea for dinner, and I am so glad I tried out this Jamie Oliver braised beef sauce recipe because it is amazingly tasty (I made a couple modifications to suit but kept pretty well to his recipe)! Pulling apart the larger pieces of braised beef into smaller pieces made the sauce rich, thick and deliciously moreish – my serving size for dinner was more appropriate for two people, but I just couldn’t stop eating it! The addition of the pearl barley was also fantastic – it helped give the sauce another level of texture and added extra complexity to what is a very humble beef sauce.
I seem to have become rather obsessed with gnocchi lately (also made this batch up a few weeks ago)….and it’s easy to understand why. Gnocchi is perhaps one of the easiest things to make, yet it also seems so utterly impressive when its served. I am always pleasantly surprised when it works for me and I am able to perfect the little parcels of fluffy goodness.
Serves 6 – 8
850gm casserole beef
1 handful each fresh rosemary and fresh thyme, stems discarded and leaves finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery, finely chopped
1 cup Chianti (or similar variety of wine)
1 can of tomatoes
2 Tbs pearl barley
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
500g floury potatoes, peeled and cooked in salted boiling water until soft
200g plain flour, plus a little extra to dust
1 egg, lightly beaten
pinch of salt
- Season the meat with salt and pepper, then cut into 3cm chunks
- In a hot casserole-type pot, fry your meat in a little olive oil until golden brown on all sides. Add your herbs, onions, garlic, carrot, and celery. Turn the heat down and continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened
- Add your red wine and continue to simmer until the liquid has almost cooked away
- Add the canned tomatoes, pasata, pearl barley, and just enough water to cover the meat by 1/2 inch. Make yourself a cartouche of baking paper (a piece of baking paper that fits on top on the sauce). Wet it with a little water, rub it with a little olive oil, and place it over the pan. Put a lid on the pan as well, as this will retain as much moisture as possible while cooking. Cook over really low heat for about 2 hours. It’s ready when you can literally pull the meat apart in tender strands, do so using a pair of tongs (breaking apart the meat chunks into smaller pieces of meat).
- Season the sauce carefully with salt and pepper to taste and allow to sit while you make your gnocchi
- Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to the boil
- Using a potato ricer, squeeze your potatoes into a large bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over flour and gently combining
- Pour potato mixture out onto a clean, dry bench that has been lightly floured. Gently start to knead the dough, then pour over the egg and work the dough into a smooth ball of potato mixture. It won’t take much effort to get to this stage, and your bench shouldn’t have much excess dough stuck to it – use a little more flour if necessary
- Divide dough into quarters, rolling each ball out into a long sausage shape (re-flour bench slightly if necessary), then cut rough 2cm pieces and pinch gently in the middle to form your gnocchi – place onto a clean dry tea towel while you continue to make the remaining gnocchi
- Cook gnocchi in your pot of boiling water in small batches for roughly 2 minutes – or until the gnocchi rises to the surface. Scoop out with a large slotted spoon (gently shaking off excess liquid) and place in serving bowl, covering with a generous spoonful of sauce and top with grated Parmesan to serve