There's a special place in my heart for gnocchi – done properly, it is a thing of great beauty. I prefer mine to be light pillows of goodness with enough structure so they hold nicely. Like most things in life, once you get the hang of it, gnocchi is relatively quick and simple to make. The trick is to have the right type of potatoes cooked properly – not long enough and you’ll get a strange slightly textured product, too long and you’ll end up with a gluey mess. This is a sauce that is a regular at Berta – almost like a bolognese, it is subtle, yet spicy and comforting. As for the gnocchi, when making them, remember to show no fear and treat your potatoes with a firm, yet gentle, hand.
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 long red chilli, finely chopped
- 250 g finely diced chicken hearts
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 150 ml red wine
- 300 g tomato polpa
- 100 ml chicken stock
- olive oil
- shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the gnocchi, please see my recipe here.
To make the ragù, place a wide based pot on a medium heat, allow it to heat up and then add a healthy splash of olive oil. Once that’s warmed, throw in the onions, garlic, fresh chilli and a little salt. Cook them gently, stirring fairly regularly until they are nicely softened. This will take about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat up to high so the pan gets really hot and then add the hearts. Stir them around in the pan so they have a chance to break up and start browning. Add the chilli flakes and tomato paste and keep stirring for another minute or so. Add the red wine and drop the temperature back down to low.
Give the red wine about 5 minutes to reduce a little before you add the tomato polpa and chicken stock. At this stage, all your sauce will need is the occasional stir and another half hour or so of gentle cooking time. Have a taste, check for seasoning and let it simmer while you start worrying about your potatoes. This sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for a good few days.
Once you've made the gnocchi, have on your stove the sauce heating and a large wide-based pan of salted water on the boil ready to cook the gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi in a couple of batches, use a spatula to pick them up off the bench and gently lower them into the water. Let them cook until they start to rise to the surface, using a slotted spoon to carefully scoop them out straight into the sauce. Once all the gnocchi is ready and in with the ragù, give it all a little jiggle to mix.
Serve swiftly with some parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and extra black pepper.
• Chicken hearts can be easily ordered from your butcher. However, if you're scared of them, use a different sauce. One that I love is a simple burnt butter sauce with capers and sage.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.
Pebble bowl from Mud. Mulberry dessert fork and spoon from The Chef and The Cook. Potatoes from Moonacres Farm.