Gnocchi With Lamb Ragu


For the gnocchi:
two pounds of Idaho potatoes
one cup all-purpose flour (plus more for working)
one tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
one tablespoon melted butter
two tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano
one teaspoon salt
one large beaten egg
quarter teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

For the lamb ragu:
one and a half pounds ground lamb shoulder
half cup diced carrot
half cup diced onion
half cup diced celery
one tablespoon tomato paste
one and a half cups dry red wine
quarter cup olive oil
one cup crushed san marzanos
two cups veal stock two bay leaves
half teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground coriander, crushed fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper flakes
one tablespoon each fresh thyme leaves and fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
half teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
salt to taste

For the ricotta topping:
one cup basket ricotta
one generous teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
one teaspoon dried oregano, crushed to dust
one teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
good splash of extra-virgin olive oil

For finishing:
grated pecorino romano
chopped fresh mint leaves

Put the potatoes in the oven to bake at 430 degrees, and then get the ragu started.

Brown the lamb in the olive oil, breaking it up well with your wooden spoon.

Add the diced onions, carrots, and celery, and continue to sautee until the carrots are soft.

Add the tomato paste and incorporate well.

Deglaze with the red wine, and boil off all the alcohol.

Add the tomatoes.

Add the herbs and spices and black pepper.

Add the veal stock, bring to a boil, lower to a low simmer, and partially cover so that the ragu slowly reduces as it cooks. When it is close to done, salt it sparingly to taste.

Mix the flour, cheese, salt, and pepper well. Allow the potatoes to cool for six or seven minutes after baking is done, and then run through a potato ricer set on medium. You need the potatoes to still be warm when you make the gnocchi dough.

Add the egg to the potato in a big bowl, and then add the dry ingredients, the butter, and the olive oil. Work gently into a ball of dough, but not too much working.

Separate into five smaller balls.

Roll each ball out into a rod, dusting the board with flour so it doesn’t stick, and then slice each rod into individual gnocchi. Make sure each gnocchi is lightly dusted with flour, and store them on a tray until use, covered with saran wrap.

Make the ricotta topping by combining the ricotta and the other ingredients in a bowl.

Mix well with a fork until it’s nice and creamy.

Ragu is ready, after 2.5-3 hours! Time to cook the motherfucken gnocchi!

After having rested for a couple hours, the motherfucken gnocchi are ready to go!

Put all the gnocchi in a biggeasse pot of boiling salty water simultaneously, *gently* stir a little bit to keep them from congealing into a big blob on the bottom, boil until they float to the top, and then boil two minutes more.

Turn off the heat on the ragu, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water with a spider, and place them directly into the ragu. Stir gently to evenly coat the gnocchi.

Plate the gnocchi, spoon on a dollop of ricotta topping, and sprinkle with grated pecorino and mint leaves. Just before you eat it, gently mix the ricotta in. The gnocchi should have a texture like pillows of air, essentially nothing to bite.

As it turned out, there was probably a bit too much ragu for the amount of gnocchi we made. I would have done an equivalent ragu recipe, but reduced to suit one pound of lamb, rather than a pound and a half.

(This was based on recipes from Carmellini’s Urban Italian cookbook.)


  1. says

    Step 39: Collapse in a heap because you’ve spent 2-1/2 days making this pile of food and you’re exhausted. Order someone else to clean up.

    (It looks really good, but too much work for me.)

    The mint and the pepper are a nice touch at the end.

  2. Sxydocma1 says

    I got a potato ricer a few years ago. It is a game changer! I always like the idea of making gnocchi, but I never seem to get around doing it.

  3. anon says

    Beautiful day but hard work. Finished the bulk of my grant. Tired and wondering if I should take a shower first and relax a little before entering the kitchen to try this so wonderful looking “gnochi”.

  4. Marella says

    Hi Prof, how many fucken people do you reckon this should feed? I’m going to make it tomorrow and if the gnocchi go well (mine never have so far) I will make them again on Sunday to have with braised duck.

  5. Marella says

    Well I’m not entirely convinced that the gnocchi were worth the effort but they were damn good! Maybe practice will speed things up, thanks for the recipe, it was very yummy.

  6. physioprof says

    They are only “worth the effort” if you enjoy cooking and value learning about how ingredients behave and find it intrinsically worthwhile to eat the fruits of your own efforts. Because you can surely obtain excellent gnocchi for a price that is substantially cheaper than the combined costs of the ingredients and the economic value of your own labor that went into making them.

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