Potato and Paprika Gnocchi with Beef Cheek Ragu

I don't often do gnocchi and I'm not quite sure why. I'm always surprised by how easy it actually is! I actually went a bit overboard, but was surprised when I made good time on them. So this recipe, will feed around four people well. I recommend reading the recipe all the way through first so you know exactly what's coming up next and can get a feel for the timing. It's all really quite easy. Also, I bake my potatoes. Not boil. Water is not our friend here

Ingredients

For the Gnocchi

1 kg starchy potatoes, I like agria

Around 1 and a half to 2 cups of superfine flour (00). Normal flour will work, but the dough won't be as light.

2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika

Salt

For the Beef Cheek Ragu

2 Small Beef Cheeks

5 Fresh Tomatoes - Large and sweet, roughly chopped

2 Onions, finely sliced

1 Bulb of Garlic, peeled and minced

3 Teaspoons of Paprika

1 Bunch of Coriander, chopped

1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Fresh coriander leaves to serve

And the extras...

2 Green Capsicums, deseed and roughly chopped

2 Parsnips, peeled and mandollined into thin slices

10 White Button mushrooms, halved

1 Fresh Tomato deseeded

8 Balls of Bocconcini (2 per person)

Fresh Basil

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

All going to plan the beef cheeks will take the longest. You can drastically reduce their cooking time with a pressure cooker, if you've got one, go for it.

I cut the beef cheeks with the grain into three strips. Transfer them to a pot with a couple lugs of olive oil. Turn to a medium-high heat and begin the frying process. Add the onions and garlic next and soften them. Add the paprika and coriander and stir well. Add the tomatoes and vinegar and cover with water.

Cover, and lower the heat to medium. Gently simmer for three and a half to four hours until falling apart. For the last half hour, removed the lid and reduce until the sauce is nice and thick.

With a skewer, prick the potatoes all over. Sprinkle rock salt on a baking tray, put the potatoes on top and then put them in the oven for an hour. You'll be able to insert a skewer through the biggest potato when they're done.

Once done, pull them out of the oven. Leave the oven on. Peel them hot, use a folded, clean dish-towel. The skin will tear off easily.

On a large chopping board or very clean bench top, grate the potato. Let it sprinkle down onto the chopping board or bench-top.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, a teaspoon of salt and the paprika well. Dust with the flour and paprika mix through a sieve. With a blunt knife or a dough scraper cut the potato and flour together, occasionally scraping and turning it back into the middle so it doesn't spread out too far. Once the flour is integrated, dust again with flour and repeat the process.

Once you've got about a cup of flour left, scrape all of the dough together, form a ball and then press it down. Dust with flour, cut it in half. Place one piece on top of the other. Press down again, dust with flour, cut in half and repeat until the flour is gone.

This is all in an effort to not promote the development of gluten. Once the flour is finished, scrape the dough off the bench, re-dust the with flour and press into a large square about 1.5cm thick all over. Dust the top of the dough and then cut into strips about an inch wide. Cut the dough into individual rectangles. I toss each one in a bowl of flour to stop them stick to any surface, then over to a sheet of wax paper.

You can press them with a fork to get the ridges. I don't bother. The thick sauce will cling to the floury surface of gnocchi anyway.

Once the sauce is is thick and the meat is falling apart, take the capsicum pieces and arrange them, skin-side down in a fry pan and fry until the skin has black charred patches. Toss them in olive oil with mushrooms and parsnip in an oven tray and roast until the parsnip pieces are caramelized. Lower the heat in the oven to the lowest temperature.

Pull the meat apart with a fork if it hasn't fallen apart already. Increase the heat to medium-high to ensure the sauce is really nice and thick.

Boil a pot of water and salt it really well. Batch cook the gnocchi (I boil about 2 servings per batch) They're cooked when the float to the surface.

Once done take the ragu off the heat. Gently mix the ragu with the gnocchi. Taste and season the sauce with a touch of salt. It won't need much- the sauce will be pretty rich.

Dish it out and arrange the gnocchi evenly on warmed serving plates. Arrange the roasted capsicum, mushroom and parsnip.

Decorate with basil leaves and halved fresh Bocconcini balls and a few leaves of fresh coriander. Serve with little chunks of fresh tomato. Grind pepper over the top and put a lime wedge on the side.

Enjoy!

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