This 5-star recipe for Potato Gnocchi with Sausage Ragu is from Davide Odore, Master Chef at the Castello di Guarene, a magnificent restored 18th century palazzo/hotel overlooking the Langhe hills in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy.
Potato gnocchi are tiny potato dumplings. They are light, pillowy and delicate in flavor—a perfect base for Chef Davide’s robust and savory sausage ragu.
A ragu is a meat based tomato sauce. Chef Davide uses Italian sausage in his ragu. The sausage is sautéed in olive oil along with aromatic vegetables, then slow-braised in red wine and tomato sauce. The finished sauce is simply divine and pairs beautifully with the ridged and grooved tiny Italian potato dumplings.
For this recipe I like to use a Nebbiolo–a red wine that was born in the mountains of northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Make sure to use some Nebbiolo in the ragu then drink the rest as you sit down to partake of this scrumptious dish.
Potato Gnocchi with Sausage Ragu
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 celery, chopped finely
1 onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, chopped finely
4 garlic, minced
1 ¼ pounds sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled*
1 cup red wine
2 cups tomato sauce
salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large, straight-sided skillet. Sauté the celery, onion, carrot and garlic in the oil for a few minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Place the sausage in the skillet and sauté for a few minutes. Add the red wine and reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4 medium potatoes, boiled (I use Yukon Golds)
2 egg yolks
1 ¼ cups “00” flour**
Peel the potatoes, then put them through a ricer or mash with a potato masher. Place the potatoes in a large bowl with the two egg yolks and flour.
Knead by hand all the ingredients. Divide the dough into eighths. Working with 1/8 at a time, roll the dough into cylinders of about 12 to 14 inches length and ½’ diameter. Slice off ½ inch pieces. You can leave the little dumplings as they are, or, if desired, roll the pieces on the tines of a fork to get the ridged effect you see on potato gnocchi. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add some salt. Place gnocchi in the boiling water. They are ready when they come to the surface. Remove from the boiling water and stir them into the pan with the sausage ragu.
Notes: *Kosher Italian sausage is available
**You should be able to locate “00” at your Italian market. If not available, order online or use all-purpose flour.