This is one of those dishes I like to cook when I'm not in a hurry to do anything in particular and I've got all afternoon to do nothing but cook and enjoy putting this slow cooked Veal dish together. When you slow cook the meat like this, it literally falls apart and off the bone.
The secret to light and fluffy Gnocchi, is to bake the potatoes and not boil them, because the more moisture in the potatoes, the more flour you'll need to add to bring it all together - making for a heavier, more stodgy Gnocchi.
This dish doesn't have to be made with Veal, you could do it equally as good with Rabbit, Lamb or even Venison.
4 sticks of Celery, finely sliced
1 Leek, chopped in half lengthwise and then finely sliced - white part only
1 Onion, finely diced
1 Carrot, cut into quarters and then sliced
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
500ml Chicken Stock
1 Glass of Red or White Wine (your choice)
700g Veal Osso Bucco or Shanks
1 Handful of Plain Flour to coat Veal
Finely chopped Italian Parsley
Salt and Pepper to Season
1Kg Whole Baked Potatoes
2 Egg Yolks
Plain flour as needed
Prepare all your vegetables and garlic as required and put to one side.
Coat the Veal in the flour and fry off in a heavy based pan in some Olive oil or Butter, until it's coloured on both sides.
Remove Veal from pan and place on a plate, while you cook your vegies in the same pan.
When cooking your vegetables, start with the bigger, thicker vegies like the carrots and celery and cook for a couple of minutes as these will take longer. Then add your leek and onion and again fry for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until they begin to soften. Once soft add your garlic and give it another minute.
Now you can add your liquid - your tomatoes, wine and stock.
Bring this all to the boil and add the meat back to the pot.
Turn the heat down to a simmer and uncovered. Leave to cook for 30 mins, giving it a stir a couple of times.
After the 30 mins has past, replace the lid and leave to simmer over a very low heat for another hour and a half, occassionally stirring the pot.
The meat will be cooked when it is soft and tender, it should come away from the bone very easily. Once cooked, remove the veal pieces from the sauce and place on your chopping board. Using two forks, pull the meat off the bones and tear the meat apart so that you have nice little broken up chunks of meat. Return the meat to the sauce, stir through the chopped parsley and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 200c
Pierce the potatoes with a fork, otherwise the potatoes may explode!
Place potatoes on a baking tray and bake for approximately 1 hour or until soft in the middle.
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove their skins and place the skinless potato into a bowl.
Using a masher or ricer, mash the potatoes until smooth - it's easier to do this while the potatoes are still warm.
Add your egg yolks and mix through the mash.
Slowly add flour to the mix - just enough to make the mixture into a very light light dough.
Once you've brought the mixture together, seperate it into 4 pieces and roll each one on a lightly floured surface to look like a long sausage.
Line the 4 dough 'sausages' up and cut the Gnocchi into little pillow shapes. Lining them up help keeps them a similar shape.
Plunge the Gnocchi into some salted boiling water and cook until it floats and then for another minute or so.
Lift the Gnocchi out of the water with a slotted spoon and drain well.
Place the gnocchi on a warmed plate and top with a couple of spoonfuls of your meat sauce.
Grate some parmesan or similar cheese over the top and maybe sprinkle some more parsley and Bob's your Uncle!
This recipe is also wicked served with some Parpadelle or other thick pasta in place of the Gnocchi. You could even whip up some polenta and serve with that. Or, you could try something I had at Pelligrini's the other day - toast some bread and place on your plate - cover the bread with ham, this is to protect it from the sauce and keep it crunchy. Spoon your sauce over the top and there you go! Molto Italiano! Bellisimo!!