How One Chef Traveled to Italy and Came Back Inspired: Gnocchi Con Ragu Bianco

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When I first started blogging, I wanted to put my recipes online for a few reasons:

  1.  A place where all of my teaching recipes (plus accompanying tips) would reside  so my students would have a place to go back and reference.
  2.  A dedicated space for my kids to be able to look up family recipes when they are on their own and cooking themselves (’cause cooking mama’s recipes will always soothe the soul, right?)
  3. And finally, a spot on the web where my voice, that has always said “food is love”, can be heard.

In all the years that I’ve taught cooking classes, my main message has always been to get back in the kitchen and get back to the table.

Last week, I was lucky to enjoy some incredible food made by the talented Michael Wilson at Luma restaurant.  He was showcasing some incredible Italian food inspired when he traveled to Italy with Matte PR and the ICCO (in connection with True Italian Taste).

As well as enjoying all of the amazing fare he created for us, a group of us sat around the table and literally “broke bread”….we shared food, and stories and laughter.

That, to me, is what great food is all about.

It was awesome.

We spoke about traditions in food and it made me realize how lucky I am that so many of those food traditions are still part of my life (we “put up” tomatoes every year [you can read all about part one and part two] and my dad goes to Italy every year to make his his own olive oil [you can see that post here].  I honestly believe that those traditions are what fuel my passion for cooking.

That’s even more awesome, right?

One of the dishes Michael created was a fabulous gnocchi dish served in a white ragu ( a mixture of rabbit and poultry and pork, which is very traditionally Italian).  The ragu was so flavourful and and so tender and succulent…so lovely!

I wanted to recreate a version for all of you to make at home.  But I wanted it to be simple,unassuming and delicious.  I thought about how to cut corners without cutting the taste and I’m pretty sure I figured it out!

Beginning with a trinity (onion, celery and carrot) or soffritto in Italian…

How One Chef Traveled to Italy and Came Back Inspired: Gnocchi Con Ragu Bianco Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon

…add in a bit of garlic, a few bay leaves and some ground veal… How One Chef Traveled to Italy and Came Back Inspired: Gnocchi Con Ragu Bianco Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon

…aaaand with a recipe for my homemade gnocchi (you can find a potato version and a more simple ricotta version here) and a wee bit of time, you can make this incredible dish too.  It will have your family (and maybe even your neighbours) running to the table!!

How One Chef Traveled to Italy and Came Back Inspired: Gnocchi Con Ragu Bianco Just Crumbs Blog by Suzie Durigon

If you’ve never been to Italy and are wondering how it must have felt for Chef Michael to travel abroad and be so inspired, check out this post about traveling through Italy (here).

I’ve just finished cleaning the kitchen after this lovely meal and I’m already thinking about when I can make this again. Keep an eye out next week for my take on the fabulous dessert we had…you’re gonna love it!!!

Gnocchi Con Ragu Bianco
Author: Suzie Durigon
Authentic ragu bianco has either rabbit or a mixture of rabbit, hen and pork. To make this a bit easier, I’ve used ground veal. Feel free to sub in ground chicken or turkey.
  • 1 recipe potato or ricotta gnocchi
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 carrot, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 small stalk celery, minced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 454g ground veal
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • freshly grated parmesan
  • olive oil for drizzling
  1. While the water boils, place a large pan over medium high heat and pour in olive oil.
  2. Add in carrot, onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes (or until the vegetables begin to soften); add in garlic and and bay leaves and lower heat to medium.
  3. Add the chili flakes (if using) and stir; add in the ground veal, season with salt and pepper and break up with the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Cook for about 10 minutes or until no longer pink; add white wine and cook again until the alcohol evaporates and the liquid is reduced.
  5. Taste the mixture and re-season if necessary; add the stock, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 25-30 minutes.
  6. When it’s almost done, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil; salt the water and cook the gnocchi until they float to the top.
  7. Remove the bay leaves and add the gnocchi to the sauce pan; stir well.
  8. Grate some (about 1/4 c) Parmesan into the pan and stir.
  9. Plate the gnocchi, drizzling the pan juices over the pasta and grate more cheese on top.
  10. Drizzle with more oil if desired