Gnocchi with braised beef sauce

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

Gnocchi with braised beef sauce

Gnocchi with braised beef sauce

The list:

Beef sauce
850gm casserole beef
Olive oil
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
400gm pasata
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

The method:


  • 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


I made ample gnocchi, and I am so glad I did

I made ample gnocchi, and I am so glad I did

The gnocchi and sauce also freeze really well together if you want to save some for later as we have

The gnocchi and sauce also freeze really well together if you want to save some for later as we have

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