This is a recipe that exalts some of the best ingredients largely available in Tuscany.
- 6 fresh whole quails, cleaned, gutted
- ½ litre chicken stock
- 300 g course pork mince
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 celery stick, diced
- 200 ml white wine
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 20 g dried porcini
- 100 g button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 juniper berries
- Tuscan cabbage, blanched, drained, chopped
- ½ kg fresh ricotta
- 150 g plain flour
- 75 g grated parmesan
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp olive oil
- grated parmesan, 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.
Separate the breast and legs off the quails. Set aside.
Make quail stock by placing the carcass, bones and skin on a roasting tray. Roast in the oven until brown.
Place the roasted carcass, bones and skin in a pot. Deglaze the roasting tray with the chicken stock, scraping the bottom. Boil for at least 1 hour. Remove from heat, strain and set aside for later.
Place the quail meat in the bowl of a food processor. Process for about 2 minutes or until chunky. Place the quail meat and pork in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside to marinate.
To make the ragu, in a heavy-based pan, cook the onion, carrot and celery for 2–3 minutes. Add the marinated quail and pork meat, and cook, stirring, for 4–5 minutes. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the white wine until it reduces slightly. Stir the tomato paste into the strained quail stock and add to the ragu.
Now add the porcini, sliced mushrooms, bay leaf and juniper berries. Cook over low heat for about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To make the gnocchi, in a large bowl, combine the cabbage, ricotta, flour, parmesan, egg, nutmeg and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Work the mixture with your hands until a dough-like ball forms.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough and cut into small pieces. Cook the gnocchi in a saucepan of salted boiling water, with a splash of olive oil, until the balls come to the surface. Drain and place on a platter. Add the hot ragu, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with grated parmesan to serve.