Traditional Easter Italian lamb dish

Tip on making perfect gnocchi:

Place potatoes in a saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until just tender when tested with a skewer (don't test too much as potatoes will become waterlogged). Drain well. Set aside until just cool enough to handle. While still hot, peel by hand and discard skins. Using a potato ricer or mouli (French rotary grater), puree potatoes into a bowl. Season to taste with salt. Cool slightly.

For the gnocchi:


  • 2 lb. potatoes
  • 9 oz. all purpose flour
  • 1 small egg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. saffron: let sit in 2 Tbs. hot water
  1. Boil potatoes until tender

  2. Let cool long enough to remove skins and pass through a potato ricer

  3. When potatoes are cooled completely, pile them on the table and make a well in the center. To the well add the flour, salt and the eff (egg should be at room temperature)

  4. Mix all together until smooth, try not to over mix because it will make the gnocchi tough

  5. Roll out the gnocchi into small snakes and cut into desired size, use a little extra flour if necessary so the gnocchi do not stick together

  6. You can either cook right away in boiling salted water or freeze for later use

  7. When cooking gnocchi drop them into boilnig water and once they rise to the top count to 10 and remove from water
For the lamb ragu, per portion:


  • 1/2 Cup lamb
  • 1/4 Cup stock
  • 1/4 Cup water
  • 2 Tbs. fresh fava beans
  • 1 Tbs. Grana Padano Cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig chopped thyme
  • Finish with grated Pecorino Romano
  1. Once lamb has cooled and stock has cooled also (with the fat removed) place 1/2 c. lamb and 1/4 cup stock with 1/4 cup water in sauce pan to heat

  2. Heat lamb and reduce stock, stirring often until liquid is almost all reduced

  3. Add in favas and continue to cook until favas are tender, remove from heat
For the finished dish:
  1. Cook 3/4 c. gnocchi per portion in salted boiling water until they rise to the top of the water (about 2 minutes depending on size)

  2. Put gnocchi directly into pan of ragu and toss together

  3. Add grana padano and thyme, season with salt and pepper

  4. Serve and finishe with Pecorino Romano

  5. For an aditional garnish reduce 1 cup of dark balsamic vinegar with 1 T. honey until syrupy and drizzle over top

  6. Buon Appetito
For the braise:

Braised lamb shank ragu:
Braising the lamb is best done the day before. As the lamb cools it can retain more of the juices from the braise and the stock itself is better dealt with on day two. As the stock cools most of the impurities and fat rise to the top and harden so the following day you can easily remove the fat.

Ingredients for the braise of 2 lamb shanks:


  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 1 celery stalk
  • *Any other vegetables you would like to flavor the meat can be addded, especially fennel (this is a great way to use the long stems of the fennel bulb to get flavor and no waste)
  • 1t. Black pepper corns
  • 1 Bay leafs
  • 2 c. Water
  • 2 c. Red wine
  1. Cut peeled carrots, onions, leeks and celery in 1 inch pieces

  2. Salt and pepper lamb shank and sear in hot oil until golden brown on both sides

  3. Remove lamb shank and quickly cook ( 5 minutes) all vegetables in the remaining oil

  4. Transfer vegetables to bottom of casserole dish or tall sided baking pan ( at least 3 inches high)

  5. Lay meat on top of vegetables and add 1 t. black pepper corns and 1 bay leaf

  6. Add water and red wine and cover with lid or aluminum foil

  7. Cook at 350 F for 4 hours or until meat pulls easily from the bone
When meat is done cooking:


  1. Remove from oven, uncover and let cool about ½ - 1 hour

  2. When meat is cool enough to handle take meat off the bone and reserve

  3. Strain liquid through a strainer and reserve discard vegetables

  4. Let stock cool overnight in fridge (leave uncovered until cooled)

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