Guest post & recipe by Amy of StreamingGourmet.com!
This version of Ragù is closer to a Ragù alla Napoletana than my recipe for Veal, Pork and Rosemary Ragù. The Ragù in Naples has more tomatoes, more onion in the soffritto and includes fresh herbs, like basil. The difference between a truly authentic Ragù alla Napoletana and mine is that in Naples, they make it with sliced meat rather than ground meat. Think pork spareribs and boneless pork shoulder stewing all day. I find it easier to work with the ground chuck, so that’s what I did here - but feel free to experiment!
Keep reading to get the recipe for Gnocchi with Beef Basil Ragù!
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom, large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Sauté gently to soften, for about 8 minutes. Stir periodically. Add the garlic halfway through. Make sure the mixture does not brown.
In a separate, large frying pan, brown the pancetta for 3-4 minutes. Add the pancetta to the cooked soffritto. Now brown the ground beef in the frying pan. This will take about 5-8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the browned ground beef to the soffritto as well. You are now done withe the frying pan.
Turn back to the stockpot and stir to mix well. Add 1/4 cup of beef stock to the mixture, stir and let simmer until nearly evaporated. Then add another 1/4 cup and repeat until you’ve done this step a total of 4 times (for one cup of beef stock).
Now increase the heat to high. You are going to add the tomatoes gradually, with high heat so that you can caramelize them. You must add one tomato at a time so that you don’t drop the heat of the sauce too quickly. I made a little well in my mixture so that when I added a tomato, it would hit the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato, crush it, mix it around, and let it heat up to start bubbling. Then incorporate it into the sauce. Then you’re ready to add the next tomato and repeat. Keep adding until gradually you’ve added the whole can. The tomatoes should be turning a deep red color.
Now add about 1/2 cup of beef stock and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer now for 1-7 hours. Just keep checking on it every 20 minutes and add beef stock as needed to keep it from burning. Stir in the fresh basil 30 minutes before you plan to serve the sauce.
To cook the gnocchi, bring salted water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add the gnocchi and boil for 2-3 minutes or until the gnocchi float to the top. Drain in a colander.
Now we’re going to take an extra step to add even more flavor to the gnocchi: In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of dried thyme. Sauté for a minute and then add the gnocchi, tossing to coat with the oil/herb mixture. Sauté and flip until the gnocchi turn golden brown.
To plate, add about 1 cup of gnocchi to a bowl and then spoon a cup or so of the sauce on top. Garnish with a spring of basil and serve with Parmesan cheese.