Homemade Cheesy Gnudi with Lamb & Beef Ragu

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The only thing I love more that desserts is cheese. This is a fact. A couple of weeks ago while watching Kelsey’s Essentials on the Cooking Channel, I found myself face to face with a perfect concoction of cheesy gnudi.

Gnudi (pronounced “nu-dee”) is a type of gnocchi made with ricotta cheese and a bit of flour. The result is a dumpling that some describe as “nude” ravioli, or filling without the pasta — that is to say, light, fluffy,  creamy and mainly cheesy.

I have no idea how I’ve missed out on this particular dish until now, but honestly it truly upsets me. Actually even my very Neapolitan boyfriend, had never heard of gnudi before, so I take a little bit of pride in having introduced it to both of our bellies. 

I made a few revisions to the recipe, mostly due to the lack of ingredients (dry mustard? ) and cooking vessels (dutch oven – still holding out for the Le Creuset sale). I also skipped the pea shoot salad at the end, and simply served the gnudi with the ragu which I made with beef and lamb, because let’s face it people lamb is really expensive right now. Nonetheless the end result was delicious and exceeded my expectations.

Cheesy Gnudi with Lamb and Beef Ragu adapted from Kelsey’s Essentials

Lamb and Beef Ragu Ingredients

  • 1 pound lamb shanks
  • 1 pound beef chunks
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • tablespoons mustard
  • teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • One 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes 
  • 4 tablespoons whole grain mustard

Cheesy Gnudi Ingredients 

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese, drained
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Zest of 2 lemons 
  • 1 large egg plus 2 yolks
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup all – purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons butter

For the lamb shank and beef ragu: Sprinkle the lamb and beef shanks generously with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a hot pan and sear the meat on each side, until golden brow. Once ready, remove from the saucepan and  set aside. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the pot, if needed, and saute the carrots, celery, garlic and onions until golden brown. Add 6 tablespoons of regular mustard (Note: if you don’t have mustard powder, you can substitute actual mustard for powder. Just keep in mind 1 tbs dry mustard powder = 2 tbs regular mustard) and red chili powder. Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato paste and cook 1 more minute to brown.

Lower the heat to medium, de-glaze with the red wine and cook until reduced by one-quarter. Return the meat to the pot followed by the chicken broth, rosemary, thyme and tomatoes. The shanks should be covered three-quarters of the way up by the liquid. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

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Cover, transfer to the oven ( I moved mine to a large casserole dish and covered with aluminum foil) and cook until the lamb shanks are just about to fall off the bone, about 2 hours. Note: Beef takes longer to cook than lamb, so make sure to keep your eye on the lamb shanks if you choose to make the dish with both meats. Once the lamb is done, you can remove it from the pot and leave the beef to cook a bit longer.

Once both meats are thoroughly cooked, remove from the bowl and let them cool. Strain the sauce and add 4 tablespoons of whole grain mustard, then shred the meat and toss with the strained sauce. Keep warm until ready to serve with the gnudi.

For the cheesy gnudi: Bring a large pot of salted water to a full simmer over high heat. Combine the ricotta, fontina, Parmesan, 1/2 of the lemon zest, eggs and a pinch salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Mix until smooth. Slowly add in the flour until a soft dough comes together (it may take more or less flour). I mixed it with my hands, because it’s the best way to truly figure out the texture of the dough.

Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. On a floured surface, roll each portion into a rope and cut the ropes into 1-inch pieces, using a knife.

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Add the gnudi, in parts,  to the pot of simmering water and cook just until they rise to the top. Remove the gnudi and transfer to a sheet tray. Repeat if necessary. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-low heat until golden brown and nutty. Add in the gnudi and saute, 1 to 2 minutes. Add sauteed gnudi to your sauce and cook for a few minutes so the sauce flavors penetrate the gnudi. Then plate and enjoy! *You may add some extra Parm on top because clearly nothing can ever be too cheesy.

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