I decided to use parsnip week as an excuse to try out a couple of challenging recipes I have failed at in the past: soufflé and gnocchi. The last time I made gnocchi, it had turned out horribly dense, chewy, and while Michael ate a few bites politely, he definitely did not like them. This time around, my parsnip gnocchi were wonderfully light and pillowy and complimented my veal shank ragu perfectly.
Recipe #5: Parsnip and Chive Gnocchi with Veal Shank Ragu
Less perfect was my parsnip soufflé. It had been beautifully puffed up when I pulled it out of the oven, but deflated by the time I had set up a space to photograph it (in bad light nonetheless). Most importantly, it did not taste good (bland), so no soufflé will be featured until I perfect the recipe.
Back to my gnocchi. The last time I had tried to make these little noodles, I had decided to use a mixer. I added probably 3 cups more flour than the recipe called for to make the dough “not sticky” and by that time knew things were not going to turn out well. The result was something I still try not to think about. It left Michael so damaged he was very apprehensive about me ever attempting gnocchi again. So before I conceptualized this recipe, I did a bunch of research. Two websites that really helped were The Food in My Beard’s Great Gnocchi Debate of 2008 and 101 Cookbook’s How to Make Gnocchi Like An Italian Grandmother.
The Great Gnocchi Debate was a great exploratory adventure on different gnocchi making techniques, but it’s most important role was convincing me to steam my [arsnips instead of roasting (which I was leaning toward doing) or boiling them. It also referred me to the 101 Cookbooks article which explains how to make gnocchi in depth. I decided to add chives based on how delicious they were in my fritters. The only thing I wish I had looked into further was the ridge making, but that will be perfected next time!
We were sort of on a budget for this recipe, so I wanted to get a cheap braising meat to use in my ragu. However, when we went to our local butcher they were out of oxtail, lamb shanks, AND pork shanks. Thankfully they had some veal shanks cut for osso-buco, and I figured that would do even though I had never prepared it before. Looking back, I do not really know why I was worried, the ragu sauce I made was almost identical to every other braised meat sauce I have made, and boy was it delicious!
Michael basically cried with happiness when he took his first bite! Not only was it a classical hardy dinner he enjoys, the gnocchi were exactly what he wanted. He bragged about them at work, and at his co-workers request brought them some for lunch, and it was met with super rave reviews! SUCCESS!!
Veal Shank Ragu
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 3.5 hours
1 lb grass-fed veal shank (typically sold as osso buco)
1/4 cup flour
1 onion diced
3 carrots diced
2 celery diced
3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup of red wine
15 oz of tomato sauce
2 (quarter-sized) slices of ginger
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
up to 4 cups beef broth
1. Liberally salt and pepper veal shanks and allow them to come to room temperature. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large pan, then dredge shanks in flour. Brown veal shanks on all sides. Set them aside.
2. In remaining oil, add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until everything is a golden color.
3. Add tomato paste and stir to coat. Deglaze pan with wine, making sure to scrape any brown bits off the bottom.
4. Add tomato sauce and wait for it to start bubbling, add spices then add veal shanks back into the pan. Add beef broth until it just covers a smaller veal shanks (1 inch or less) or until the liquid comes up half way on a thicker veal shank.
5. Bring liquid to a boil, then cover and simmer on lowest heat possible for 3 hours. In these 3 hours, turn the meat occasionally, and if necessary, add more stock to keep the shanks partially submerged.
6. When meat is tender to the point of falling off the bone, remove from sauce and carefully (wait until cooled a bit) shred the meat from the bone. Here you can also enjoy the marrow on a piece of crusty bread. Add meat back into the ragu sauce, discard bones. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Serve on parsnip and chive gnocchi (recipe follows) garnished with chopped chives and grated Parmesan.
Parsnip & Chive Gnocchi
1 lb parsnip cut roughly
1 egg beaten
scant 1 cup flour
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 tbsp chives
1. Steam parsnips until tender, then run through a potato ricer. If you do not have a ricer (I don’t!), either grate parsnips with a fork (worked better for me) or cheese grater. Mashing parsnips will make them too heavy and lead to a dense gnocchi.
2. On a counter top, place riced parsnip, chives, Parmesan, salt, 1/4 cup of the egg, and 3/4 of a cup of the flour in a big pile. The trick to combining these ingredients is to gently push and move them together. Basically you want to combine them with the least possible handling. Scrape underneath and fold with the gentlest touch until the mixture is a light crumble. Then, once again gently, knead the dough slightly. Determine if you need to add more liquid or more flour, but only add either a tablespoon at a time. Dough should be moist but not sticky.
3. Divide dough into 8 pieces, take one of the pieces and roll it into a big long snake the thickness of a thumb. Cut the snake into 3/4 inch pillows and dust with flour. Repeat until all dough as been cut.
4. I am not an expert at shaping gnocchi, I sort of just rolled it against a fork. I was told that shaping gnocchi takes a confident but light hand! This video is super helpful! I wish I had watched it honestly!
5. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add about 20 gnocchi at a time. Once the gnocchi float to the top wait about ten more seconds, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon.