Imagine this: The dutch oven has been on the stove for about 2 hours, releasing the smell of the lamb shanks braising in the wine and tomato broth all over the house. It’s irresistible. You can’t wait to plate. Everything is finally ready, the gnudi have been cooked and plated, the lamb shredded and tossed over them and then the sauce poured all over. As your plate is placed in front of you, you finally get up close and personal with the aroma and get a good look at these funny looking dumplings. With your fork, you cut open a gnudo and the melted ricotta cheese hidden within the firm doughy shell almost oozes out. It’s teasing you. A couple of bits of lamb and a healthy dip in the sauce create the perfect bite; and finally you’re there, the creamy dumpling, the tender lamb and the almost divine sauce come together to give you a truly remarkable dining experience. You wish to make the meal last longer, but it’s so good, you can’t stop eating. Recipe after the jump.
For the lamb:
3 large lamb shanks on the bone
1 Osso bucco bone or a similar beef bone
2 carrots chopped roughly
1 carrots peeled and paysanned
1 1/2 celery sticks roughly chopped
1 large onion roughly chopped
4 button mushrooms sliced
3 garlic cloves peeled and squashed
2 tbsp of tomato puree
A couple of rosemary sprigs
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of red wine
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup of cream
For the Roux
2 1/2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of flour
For the gnudi:
1 cup of Ricotta cheese
3/4 cup of freshly ground Parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
2 tsp of fresh chopped rosemary
3/4-1 cup of all purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Dredge the bone and lamb shanks in some regular flour, then heat some oil in a large dutch oven over a medium high heat. Brown the meat and the bone in the dutch oven on all sides, it will take about 10-15mins. Remove the meat and add a couple more lugs of oil. Then add the celery, carrots, onions and garlic and fry up for about 7-10 minutes until softened and fragrant but not browned. Then add the tomato puree and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Return the meat and bone, add the herbs and wine and add enough water to cover the shanks until they’re almost submerged (normally about 1 more cup). Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, amply season with salt and pepper and cover. The shanks will cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Check on them every half hour or so just to make sure the liquid hasn’t reduced too much. About halfway through the cook, you’ll have to turn the shanks over just to make sure they cook evenly. Finally, about a half hour before you remove them off the heat, add the finely chopped carrots and the mushrooms, they’re actually be served on the plate, so you’ll either have to pick them out of the sieve or colander when the sauce is strained, or you can just tie them up into a cheese cloth and add them to the sauce. The reason they’re added so late is to make sure they’ll still have some bite to them.
While the shanks are cooking, start to make the gnudi. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together until a dough forms. While it should be wet, it can’t be sticky, so you may have to add more flour than prescribed, don’t worry too much about it, just make sure that the mixture is nice and wet and not overworked. You can then roll them into individual balls (about 4-5cm diameter) using floured hands and placing them on a floured surface or form quenelles and drop them straight into fast boiling salted water. Each gnudo will cook for about 2 minutes, they’ll basically float to the surface like gnocchi when done. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside, keeping them warm until you finish the sauce. Ideally, you shouldn’t let the gnudi wait longer than 10ish minutes until plating.
Check to make sure that the lamb shanks are cooked and that the meat almost falls off the bone. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and keep warm on a low heat. Shred the meat off the bone and set aside along with the carrot and mushroom that will join the plate and set aside. In another saucepan, make the roux by melting the butter on a medium heat and then gradually adding the flour, whisking constantly. Cook the roux until it reaches a golden sandy color. Add the cream to sauce in the other pan and then add half of the roux, whisking constantly. The sauce should thicken a bit, just enough to cover the back of a spoon. Assemble the plate by laying the gnudi, covering with the lamb, carrots and mushrooms and then adding the sauce. This is a really really good dish.