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Potato gnocchi with meat sauce

  • 1 hour and 35 minutes
  • Medium
  • First Courses
The porous texture of the gnocchi makes the dumplings a perfect pair for a hearty meat sauce.

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 3 ½ oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • salt to taste
  • 2 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • 1 oz butter
  • ½ onion, small
  • 1 carrot, small
  • ½ stalk celery
  • 3 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 oz canned tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste


Wash the potatoes and place them, unpeeled, in a pot of filled with salted water. Make sure that the potatoes are completely covered with water, but only by 1 inch.

Bring to a boil and cook for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and a fork can slide in easily. 

Once cooked, let the potatoes cool so that they can be handled. Peel and pass them through a potato masher or vegetable mill. Spread the potatoes across a cutting board or flat work surface dusted with flour. Mix the hot potatoes with the flour, eggs and a little bit of salt. Work together to make a smooth dough and divide into three pieces.

Working carefully and making sure to keep your work space well-floured, roll each piece of dough into a ¾-inch wide log.

Using a knife dusted in flour, cut the log into ¾-inch wide slices. Use your thumb to roll each piece against the tines of a fork. Let the gnocchi fall onto a floured cloth napkin and repeat until you have shaped all of the gnocchi.

To make the ragù:

Clean and finely chop the celery, carrot and onion. Place a sauté pan over medium heat and add the oil and butter. As soon the butter has melts, add the chopped vegetables. Sauté until the onion is lightly golden.

Then add the ground meat and bay leaf. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the wine. As soon as the wine has completely evaporated, add the tomato pulp. Lower the heat and cook for about 40 minutes over low heat. Add a little broth if the sauce seems dry. Adjust the salt and pepper, then stir the sauce and remove it from the heat.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water. As soon as the gnocchi rise to the top, remove using a slotted spoon. Serve with the meat ragù and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Food History

Although no one knows for sure, gnocchi were probably the first type of pasta created by man. Rolling small pieces of dough between your fingers is the most natural way to shape pasta and is probably what people did thousands of years ago with dough made of flour and water. Gnocchi (the Italian word for dumplings) can be made in many ways, using both sweet and savory ingredients. Potato gnocchi, now popular in Italy, were made for the first time in the 18th century, whereas other types were made prior to that time. Recipes for wheat flour, rice or dried bread gnocchi, for example, were popular in the Middle Ages both among the lower and upper classes. In fact, two Renaissance court chefs, Cristoforo Messisbugo and Bartolomeo Scappi, included gnocchi recipes in their cookbooks.

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