This ragù bianco or white ragù is the tomato-free variant of the traditional ragù alla bolognese.
Italian mothers can make it with any meat: veal, beef, sausage, bacon, but also white meats such as chicken.
My favourite version is made with rabbit meat, lots of vegetables and very little fat (just a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil). The rabbit meat is a very lean but very tasty and tender meat, this is why I prefer it for this recipe but keep in mind that the same procedure can be used for any meat!
PREPARATION: 60 min. / SERVING SIZE: 4 people
700 g of floury potatoes (mehlige Kartoffeln)
180 g of 00 flour (405 type)*
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 pinch of salt
* The amount may vary depending on the potatoes you use. If you want to be extra sure, cook a couple of gnocchi and see if they hold their shape. If not, you may add some flour.
500 g of bio rabbit meat
1 clove of garlic
1 small white onion
1 small carrot
1 rib of celery
half a glass of red or white wine
300 ml of water
1 spoon of olive oil
1/2 tbs of salt
black pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, marjoram
Start by making the white ragù: in a large-bottomed saucepan sauté the chopped onion, the whole crushed clove of garlic, the carrot and celery stick in the olive oil.
In the meantime, mince the rabbit meat, crumble it into the saucepan and fry it until it turns white.
Deglaze the meat with the wine and let the alcohol evaporate.
Add the water.
Add the spices (rosemary, thyme, laurel, marjoram) and the salt, and leave to cook on a low flame with the lid on for about 40-50 minutes. When it becomes thick, it is ready!
Proceed with the dough for the gnocchi: wash the potatoes and boil them whole with their skins.
Remove the skin from the potatoes and mash them with a potato masher or vegetable mill while they are still hot, but let them cool down before mixing them with the flour (see tips).
Add egg and salt and then knead the mixture shortly, until it comes together.
Roll out the dough into 3 cm thick rolls and cut them into 2-3 cm wide pieces. Place each piece on the "riga-gnocchi" or the prongs of a fork and press down lightly with your thumb to give the characteristic ridge on one side and the hollow on the other.
Gradually place them on a clean cloth sprinkled with flour.
Throw the gnocchi directly into boiling salted water. I do not recommend cooking too many at the same time (they would stick all together in the pot). When the gnocchi come to the surface, they are ready! Drain them gently with a slotted spoon and put them in the pot with the sauce.
1. The most suitable potatoes are the floury ones. Choosing the right potatoes is crucial to the success of the recipe: otherwise you risk obtaining gnocchi that are too soft and fall apart during cooking.
2. It is essential to cook potatoes with their skin. Not only they retain their flavour, but the pulp does not absorb too much water and risk to flake.
3. Potatoes should always be mashed when hot, because as they cool they suffer a retrogradation of the starch and become sticky. Once mashed, it is best to knead them while they are lukewarm to not to burn yourself and to not to denature the proteins in the flour in contact with a food that is too hot.
4. As with shortcrust pastry (see previous article), the gnocchi dough only needs to be kneaded long enough to compact all the ingredients, to prevent it from becoming too wet due to the starch released from the potatoes. Unlike shortcrust pastry, however, gnocchi do not have to rest in the fridge, but can be cooked immediately or frozen.
5. Dough too soft and sticky? Don't add flour, just transfer it to another floured work surface and knead it patiently.
6. You can freeze uncooked gnocchi: place them on a tray lined with greaseproof paper and freeze them, then seal them in a freezer bag and keep them in there for up to three months. To store cooked gnocchi, place them in a container with a lid and keep them in the fridge for up to one day.