This roast lamb ragu served over homemade potato gnocchi is made from leftover roast lamb, gravy and mashed potatoes. The lamb ragu only needs about 5 minutes of prep so it basically makes itself.
I really love making full use of food, especially by transforming leftovers in creative and exciting ways.
I've been on a roll lately since the quarantine started and I've been extra determined to use what I have.
For example there's this Mediterranean Savoury French Toast Bake that transformed some stale bread and moldy cheese into a tasty and exciting weekend brunch.
This past Friday night I did it again, taking some stale bread from the Easy Braided Whole Wheat Loaf I made last week and turning it into an incredibly good Sicilian Anchovy and Breadcrumb Sauce with Homemade Pappardelle Pasta.
I really love sharing these types of dishes not so they can be followed exactly, but because they exemplify what a bit of creativity in the kitchen can do.
I'm providing a basic outline of how I made this dish but the beauty of it is that it's so flexible and the perfect moment to do a bit of off-roading in the kitchen.
'The map is not the territory' and the recipe is only a guideline.
Making the roast lamb ragu
We've now had roast lamb two weekends in a row for both the calendar Easter last weekend and the Orthodox Easter that was this past weekend. Even though we had two friends join us for the Easter meal this weekend, it was still a lot of leftover roast lamb meat as well as gravy and mashed potatoes.
The lamb didn't look all that appealing the next day and so I decided to slow cook it. I checked what I had around the pantry and fridge to jazz things up a bit and found the following:
- 1 can of tomatoes
- a little bit of leftover pesto
- a small hunk of dried parmesan
- some creamy mascarpone
I threw the sliced lamb into a Dutch oven, covered it with the leftover gravy and the can of tomatoes. Then I added the pesto, parmesan and some dried oregano, chilli flakes and black pepper. I slow cooked it at 150 C / 300 F for one hour, shredded it with two forks, and then put it back in the oven for another 2 hours.
By the end of about 4 hours of cooking the roast lamb meat was soft, tender and fully infused with the flavours of the sauce. It was the perfect complement to a robust noodle like gnocchi but it would also be great with homemade pappardelle or even a store-bought pasta - maybe a fusilli to catch all the sauce.
Making the gnocchi
To make the gnocchi you will need:
- 800 grams of leftover mashed potatoes (or same weight uncooked - just boil them before)
- 200 grams of flour
- 1 whole egg
- 1 teaspoon of salt
This makes 4 very generous portions or 6 starter portions.
It's a good idea to make the gnocchi about an hour before you plan to eat, that way you'll have plenty of time to roll and cut it.
The process for making homemade gnocchi is simple:
- Mix the ingredients being careful not to over-mix and form gluten.
- Turn out the mix onto a liberally floured surface and cut it into 6 - 10 pieces.
- Roll out each piece into a 1 centimetre thick rope, and use a sharp knife to cut the ropes into small pieces about the size of large green olives.
- Use a fork or ridged pasta board to swipe a ridge onto each gnocchi and then set them aside on a floured surface like a plat or cutting board (so they're easier to transfer to the boiling water).
- Once they're all rolled and shaped, bring a large pot of water to boil. Working in batches or all at once (depending on the size of your pot) boil the gnocchi until they bob to the surface - about 2 minutes.
- Remove them to bowl and immediately butter or oil them so they don't stick together.
You can also check out the full recipe and write up for homemade potato gnocchi.
If an hour of prep is more than you want to do, consider making homemade pappardelle pasta instead.
It's only about 10 - 15 minutes of hands-on prep time, simple to execute and robust enough to take on a rich lamb ragu. The basic ingredients are semolina flour and water or regular flour and eggs.
Gnocchi with Roast Lamb Ragu (Made from Leftovers!)
Roast Lamb Ragu
- 400 - 500 grams of leftover roast lamb or beef you can also substitute fresh whole cuts of lamb or beef
- Leftover gravy if you have it
- ½ cup of reserved pasta water
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- About 50 grams / 2 oz of dried parmesan
- 1 tablespoon of pesto
- 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspooon of dried chilli flakes
- 2 tablespoons of mascarpone
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Fresh basil and more parmesan for garnish
Homemade Potato Gnocchi
- 800 grams of raw or mashed potatoes
- 200 grams of flour
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Cut the lamb/beef into slices 1 centimetre thick and layer in (ideally) a cast iron Dutch oven with a lid or ceramic (oven-safe) casserole dish with a tightly fitting lid.
- Pour in the tomatoes and any leftover gravy you have as well as the pesto, parmesan, oregano, chilli flakes, black pepper and salt.
- Bake covered for 1 hour at 150 C / 300 F.
- Remove from oven and use two forks to shred the meat.
- Return to oven for another 2 hours up to 3 hours or more depending on how long it takes the meat to get tender. It will get more tender the longer it cooks.
- After a maximum of 5 hours of slow cooking, remove from oven and add in the mascarpone and pasta water. Spoon over the pasta and top with fresh basil.
- About an hour before you plan to eat, make the homemade gnocchi (also see note).
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