Beef short-rib ragù with gnocchi buns
- A challenge
- February 2016
- Serves 4 - 6
- Hands-on time 1 hour, oven time 4½ hours, plus rising and proving
Stuff the soft, pillowy gnocchi buns with a hearty helping of slow-cooked beef short-rib in this warming winter recipe.
- 23.6g (7.5g saturated)
- 116.6g (14.7g sugars)
- Olive oil for frying
- 4 British beef short ribs on the bone, about 1kg total weight
- 200g pancetta lardons
- 1 large celery stick, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 250ml red wine
- 500ml fresh beef stock
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- Small bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped, plus extra leaves to serve
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp caster sugar
For the gnocchi buns
- 800g maris piper potatoes
- Glug olive oil, plus extra for oiling
- 7g fast-action dried yeast
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra to dust
- 100g ‘00’ pasta flour
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp fine sea salt
- 75ml warm water
- Beaten free-range egg to glaze
- Heat a glug of oil in a large lidded casserole over a high heat. Add the short ribs and brown all over (about 10 minutes). Watch they don’t burn and be careful of the hot oil. Remove the ribs to a plate, turn the heat to medium, then add the pancetta. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp, then remove from the pan and add to the plate with the short ribs.
- Turn the heat to low and add the celery, carrot, garlic and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring, then add the red wine and beef stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer until reduced by half.
- Heat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2. Add the bay leaf, basil, chopped tomatoes and sugar, bring back to the boil, then add the short ribs with the resting juices and the pancetta. Cover with a cartouche, put on the lid and cook in the oven for 4½ hours. Let the meat cool, then shred it, removing and discarding the bones and excess fat.
- Meanwhile, for the gnocchi buns, peel and chop the potatoes into equal pieces, put in a pan and cover with cold, salted water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until just tender (15-20 minutes). They should yield easily to the tip of a knife but not be falling apart. Drain and steam dry in a colander for a few minutes, then pat dry with kitchen towel. Beat with the paddle attachment in an electric stand mixer until smooth (or pass through a potato ricer). Add a big glug of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and bring together. You may need to add a little more oil to get a smooth mash. Spread out on a baking sheet to cool completely.
- Put the yeast, flours, sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Make a well in the centre, then add the warm water and stir to combine. Mix in a handful of the mashed potato with a wooden spoon. Keep mixing in the potato a handful at a time, then turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface once it becomes too much for the bowl.
- Keep kneading and adding the potato bit by bit. It will look like it’s not going to combine, but it will. Once all the potato has been incorporated, knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or for 5 minutes in an electric mixer with a dough hook until it’s smooth and elastic.
- Set aside somewhere warm in a large, covered, lightly oiled bowl for 2 hours until doubled in size. Gently knead to knock out the air, then divide into 16 round, even-size buns. Place, spaced a little apart, on 2 large oiled baking trays, lightly cover in oiled cling film and leave to prove for about 45 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Brush the buns with beaten egg, then bake for 25 minutes until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the underside. Cool until just warm, then tear open and serve with the hot ragù and basil leaves.
Make the ragù up to 3 days in advance, cool and keep covered in the fridge. Or, cook, then cool and freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months. You may need to add a splash of stock or water when reheating, to loosen. Bring to a good simmer before serving.
For slow cookers make the ragù to the end of step 2 using only 150ml red wine, 250ml beef stock and 1 tin tomatoes. Put in the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients, including the reserved ribs and pancetta. Cook for 4½ hours.
Head to Sicily for a no-nonsense warm-climate red such as nero d’avola.
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