Recipes // Side Dishes // Classic Potato Gnocchi with Catcher’s Italian Meat Sauce

Classic Potato Gnocchi with Catcher’s Italian Meat Sauce


By Chef Jonathon Sawyer

7 servings


  • 2 Idaho potatoes
  • 11/2 to 2 cups (188 to 250 g) organic all-purpose flour
  • 3 large organic eggs, beaten
  • 1 recipe Catcher’s Italian Meat sauce (recipe follows on page 69)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons (24 g) chopped fresh herbs (choose your favorite: oregano, parsley, basil)
  • 2 tablespoons (14 g) toasted bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons (12 g) grated Parmesan cheese

Other Stuff:

  • Cake tester (optional)
  • Food mill or potato ricer or masher
  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment (optional)
  • Wooden cutting board
  • Cookie sheet
  • Large saucepan
  • Pasta pot with strainer


1. Preheat the oven to 325°f (170°C, or gas mark 3) and roast the potatoes until fully cooked through, about 50 minutes. Tip: A cake tester makes a great potato tester. When it goes through the potato without resistance, the potato is done. Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. Boiling the potatoes is also a perfectly fine option, just skin them and boil until a cake tester or toothpick goes through without resistance.

2. Split the potatoes and scoop out all the flesh, leaving all the skin behind. use the food mill, potato ricer, or potato masher to mash the potatoes.

3. Combine the potatoes with 11/2 cups (188 g) of the flour in the stand mixer using a dough hook or on a cutting board. If using the cutting board, shape the potato-flour mixture into a volcano shape to contain the eggs during the mixing process. Add the eggs to the mixer or “volcano” and stir until just combined. The dough should be slightly sticky, but if it is too sticky, add more flour. Shape the dough into a rectangle and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. (See photos, page 68.)

4. Dust a wooden cutting board with flour. Cut a 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide piece from the dough rectangle and roll the piece of dough between your hands on the cutting board to make a long cylinder or snake about as thick as a roll of quarters. Cut the cylinder into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Place on a flour-dusted cookie sheet and store in the freezer. Fancy home cooks can fork it instead of a knife and roll them on a gnocchi board for that classic look.

STOP (IF YOU WANT)! Gnocchi can be made in advance and frozen for 2 to 3 months until you are ready to use them.

5. In a large saucepan, warm the meat sauce over low heat.

6. Fill a large pot with water and season with salt until it tastes like seawater. Bring to a boil over high heat. Blanch eight gnocchi at a time, for about 7 minutes per batch. Gnocchi are done when they bob to the top and float there for a minute. transfer each batch of gnocchi to the sauce and simmer for an additional 3 minutes to allow the noodle and sauce to become one.

7. Garnish with the olive oil, herbs, bread crumbs, and Parmesan.

Catcher’s Italian Meat sauce

YIELD: 1 quart (940 ml)


  • 1/2 pound (227 g) pancetta or lightly smoked bacon
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons (8 g) chopped fresh herbs (choose your favorite: oregano, parsley, basil)
  • 1/2 pound (227 g) 70% lean grass-fed beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 cup (235 ml) dry italian red wine
  • 1 cup (235 ml) whole organic milk
  • 2 cups (500 g) tomato passato

Other Stuff:

  • Food processor
  • Sauté pan
  • Potato masher


  1. Combine the pancetta, olive oil, onion, celery, carrot, fennel, garlic, and herbs in the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and well combined. (this mixture is often known as the soffrito.) Sauté the soffrito slowly in a pan over low heat, stirring often, approximately 25 minutes. If you’d like to, you can roast the soffrito first covered, then uncovered, to achieve maximum vegetable flavor extraction.
  2. Add the beef and anchovy paste to the soffrito and increase the heat to high. Lightly brown the meat, using a potato masher to achieve a fine texture.
  3. Add the wine and cook over medium-high heat until 90 percent of the wine has evaporated. Add the milk and continue to cook over medium-high heat until 70 percent of the milk has evaporated. (It will appear to curdle. this is just part of the magic.) Add the tomato passato, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.

Chef Says

Take the time to develop the flavors in this sauce. Adding ingredients at specific times allows foods magic to happen. it’s just sauce, but it can be great sauce.

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