Sunday, April 7

Oh What A Night! Ricotta Gnocchi with Sweet-Fennel-Sausage Ragù at LUPA


Years ago when Mr.P and I were visiting New York one summer, we strolled around Greenwich Village aimlessly for several hours. Anyone who has been to the Village can understand how wonderful this unhurried walk can be. Meandering down one charming street after another, we found ourselves on Thompson Street...and hungry. The truth is, the wonderful rush of aroma coming from a sweet little trattoria drew us in. Ducking inside we realized this Italian eatery was packed to the gills and knew we would wait hours for a table.

Mr.P worked his southern charm and I crossed my fingers hoping it wouldn't be too long. An hour later we were sitting at a beautiful sidewalk table watching the city pass us by. I suppose southern charm does come in handy on occasion.

We split several courses as we always do: an appetizer, a pasta, a fish of the day, and of course dessert. Each was more savory than the one before, and we were oohing and aahing the entire time. The Ricotta Gnocchi with Sweet-Fennel-Sausage Ragù was beyond compare! It truly made our experience at LUPA memorable. I gladly share this phenomenal recipe with you. ENJOY!

Ricotta Gnocchi with Sweet-Fennel-Sausage Ragù
Chef Mark Ladner of Lupa
Serves 4 
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INGREDIENTS
Gnocchi
  • 8 ounces fresh drained ricotta
  • 8 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling the dough
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Sweet Fennel Sausage Ragù
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1⁄2 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1⁄2–1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1⁄2 large red onion, cut into medium dice
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into medium dice
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into medium dice
  • 1⁄2 fennel bulb, cut into medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can Italian tomatoes, puréed until smooth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
WHAT TO DO
Gnocchi
  • In a large bowl, combine the ricotta and goat curd; mix well with a rubber spatula. 
  • Add the egg, salt, and pepper and fold together. 
  • Slowly add the flour and mix the dough until combined, but take care not to overwork it. Refrigerate until the dough has firmed up.
  • Turn the dough onto a generously floured surface, as it may be a little sticky, and roll into cylinders approximately 3⁄4-inch thick. 
  • Place the cylinders on a floured tray and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
  • Remove the cylinders from the fridge one at a time, and with a sharp knife cut them into 1⁄2-inch lengths. 
  • Flatten each gnocchi gently with the tines of a fork.

Ragù
  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a thick, heavy-bottomed pan, and add the sausage. Sauté until the sausage is brown on the outside but still pink in the center, then add half the ground fennel and half the red-pepper flakes. 
  • When the sausage pieces are just cooked through, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon. 
  • Add the onions, celery, carrots, fennel bulb, and garlic to the pan with the sausage fat and cook until they caramelize. 
  • Return the sausage to the pan and stir in the tomatoes. 
  • Simmer the ragù for approximately 30 minutes or until all the vegetables and sausage are tender. 
  • Check and adjust seasonings to taste, adding salt, pepper, more pepper flakes, and ground fennel. 
  • When the mixture has cooled, transfer to a blender. Pulse until just combined—the sauce should not be smooth.
To Serve
  • Bring 4 quarts water with 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large pot. In a sauté pan, gently warm the sausage ragù with the butter. Add water to ragù to thin it if necessary.
  • Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water a few at a time; stir to keep them from sticking. 
  • Cook them for 4 to 5 minutes—they’re done when they have floated on the surface for about a minute. 
  • Gently remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and immediately add to the sauté pan with the ragù. 
  • Toss the gnocchi in the ragù and cook for 30 seconds Add a little pasta water if necessary to thin the sauce. Toss the gnocchi with pecorino and black pepper. Serve immediately.
A bit blurry, but you can just make out the 
back of Mr.P's head in the center of this photo.
My handsome view and dinner companion, Mr.P.
Mr.P's view and grateful wife...ME!


We always remember that first time and how special it was quite literally stumbling upon it, waiting at the bar for a table, the magnificent meal and incomparable service.We haven't been to LUPA in awhile and I think of it often like an old friend. I crave the ricotta gnocchi, the bavette cacio and  pepe, but mostly I crave the experience. And I think it's time to go back.


ENJOY!

Mr.P relaxing in Washington Square
~THE DOMESTIC CURATOR~
RONDA

P.S. LUPA Osteria Romana is Mario Batali's restaurant, it is by far my favorite place to eat in Manhattan. If you look closely at the photo above you can just make out the blurry image of a blue awning. This is Tomoe Sushi, Mr.P's FAVORITE place to eat. Patrons will stand in line at Tomoe for an hour JUST to get take-out. The NYC food critics say it's the best and Mr.P agrees....I wouldn't know, I don't DO sushi!

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