Gnocchi And Lamb Sugo

Ever wanted to make gnocchi by hand?

It may look intimidating… let alone hard enough to pronounce, but gnocchi are very easy to make when given the proper recipe guide and tools.

We toss these gnocchi in a gravy of lamb stock, sausage, and broccoli rabe.

Wanna gain some respect from your Italian grandmother, or foodie friends?

Try this gnocchi recipe and you will put a smile on all of their faces.

Gnocchi And Lamb Sugo

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 5 hours

Yield: 8 portions


  • 2 lbs. lamb shanks
  • 3 lbs. lamb shoulder
  • 10 oz. guanciale
  • 1 head celery
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 1 leek
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 4 ea shallots
  • 1 ea ginger
  • 1 head broccoli rabe
  • 1 bunch thai basil
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • bay leaves
  • tomato paste
  • AP flour
  • sugar
  • glucose
  • balsamic vinegar
  • white wine
  • butter
  • buffalo mozzarella
  • harissa powder
  • cumin
  • corriander


  1. Step 1: Make the lamb stock
  2. Step 2: Make the gnocchi
  3. Step 3: Make the lamb sausage
  4. Step 4: Make agrodulce
  5. Step 5: Prep the veg
  6. Step 6: Cook and plate

Gnocchi And lamb Sugo Step 1: | Make The Lamb Stock

Although this takes time, it is extremely easy and should be done the day before. You can’t achieve the rich lamb flavor, and proper sauce consistency any other way.

We like to use lamb shanks for this stock. Simply ask your butcher to cut them horizontally about two inches thick on a band saw.  If he won’t do it, then go somewhere else for the shanks. That’s a bad butcher, as it literally takes one minute.

Start by heating a stock pot on medium low heat, dry the lamb shanks with paper towels, and toss them in a bowl with grape seed oil.

lamb shanks and oil

Using tongs, brown the shanks all over.  This will take some time but it’s important not to rush this step. Don’t turn up the heat, it should take roughly an hour.

While the shanks are slowly browning, cut the vegetables, measure out the water, tomato paste, and herbs.

vegetables for lamb stock

Once the bones are browned, drain the fat from the pot and add  the rest of the ingredients.

browned lamb bones

lamb stock

Cook for 5 hours at a simmer and every now and then skim off the lamb fat that rises to to the top using a ladle.  The stock should never come to a rolling boil.

simmering lamb stock

Next, strain the liquid from the pot through a colander and cheese cloth.

lamb stock being strained in cheesecloth

Refrigerate over night for the next day.

finished lamb stock with gelatin

Note: The lamb stock should have the consistency of Jello. The gelatin in the stock will stick to the ridges of the gnocchi when reduced with butter which is exactly what you are looking for.

Not to mention, gelatin is very good for you.

Lamb Stock Recipe:

2 lbs. lamb bones

2 qts. water

1/2 cup diced leeks

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

1 cup diced onions

1 tbs. grapeseed oil

1 tbs. tomato paste

2 ea. bay leaves

3 ea. garlic cloves

5 sprigs thyme

Gnocchi And Lamb Sugo Step 2: | Make The potato Gnocchi

There are many methods for making potato gnocchi and every chef will tell you why their method is the best.  Some chefs boil the potatoes, some roast the potatoes, some add egg and some don’t, “blah blah blah”…  the goal is still one the same.

It may look intimidating but it really isn’t rocket science.  The key to making the best gnocchi is the ratio of flour to potato in the recipe, and not over kneading. Too much flour with over kneading and the gnocchi get dense. Too little flour and they fall apart when they are boiled. But, when done correctly, they should be light and soft potato pillows that soak up the sauce perfectly.

We like to boil the russet potatoes in their jackets and peel them immediately after when they are cool enough to handle. We do that so they can dry quickly in their own steam. They are then passed through a food mill onto a flat wide surface so they can continue to give up their steam. The dryer, the better.

You will definitely need a food mill. You can find a good and fairly inexpensive one here.  Always use one with the smallest holes possible. Ricers just don’t cut it as they leave chunks of potato in your dough.

To start, place the washed potatoes in a pot with salt and water, and bring to a boil.  The cooking liquid should be as salty as the ocean.

russet potatoes and salt

Cook until a cake tester pierces through very easily. Meanwhile measure out the remaining ingredients.

boiling russet potatoes cake tester

Strain the potatoes and peel while still warm.

peeling the cooked russet potatoes

Pass the potatoes though the food mill onto a baking sheet, spread evenly with a fork, and let cool to room temperature. Don’t smash the potatoes, you want to release as much steam as possible.

passing the potatoes through a food mill

potatoes and gnocchi ingredients

Once the potatoes have cooled, pour the cream and egg over the potatoes.

potatoes with cream and egg

Next, cover with the flour and chop the flour into the dough using a bench scraper.

chopping potatoes, egg, and flour

Once it is chopped and fully incorporated, bring the dough into a ball and lightly knead.

lightly kneading the gnocchi dough

bringing the gnocchi dough into a ball

Cut a portion of the dough and roll into a long log.

cut and finished gnocchi dough

rolling the gnocchi dough into a log

Next, cut small dumplings using a knife or bench scraper.

cutting dumplings using a bench scraper

If you don’t have a gnocchi paddle you can easily shape them using the back of a fork… or just skip this step entirely.

We use a paddle so the gnocchi can soak up the gravy better.

Using your thumb, place the dumpling on the board and lightly press into the board while rolling it away from you.
rolling the dumpling on the board

Roll the gnocchi off the paddle onto a sheet tray with flour and refrigerate until ready to cook.

finished gnocchi

rolling the gnocchi off the paddle

Note: you may need extra flour for rolling out the logs. Always dust the individual gnocchi with flour so they don’t stick to each other.

Gnocchi Recipe:

3 ea. large russet potatoes

1 ea. egg

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 cups AP flour

Diamond kosher salt to taste

Gnocchi And Lamb Sugo Step 3: | Make The Lamb Sausage

We like to make our own sausage for this recipe. By adding the guanciale to the lamb it boosts flavor and keeps the ground lamb from drying out. The spices in the sausage really set this dish apart from the rest.

Start by cutting the lamb and gaunicale into strips 2 inches wide.



Grind the meat using a meat grinder and medium dye.


Measure out the rest of the ingredients.


Mix the ingredients into the lamb until fully incorporated, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.


Note: This lamb sausage freezes extremely well.


Lamb Sausage Recipe:

3 lbs. lamb shoulder

10 oz. guanciale

1 tbs. minced garlic

1 1/2 tbs. minced ginger

3 tbs. minced shallots

1 1/2  tbs. dry harissa powder

1 1/2 tbs. diamond kosher salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. corriander

Gnocchi And Lamb Sugo Step 4: | Make The Balsamic Agrodolce

Agrodolce means sweet and sour. This is a reduction of balsamic vinegar, sugar, and glucose and is extremely easy to make.

Measure the ingredients.

balsamic agrodulce ingredients

Add to a pot and bring to a simmer for 12 minutes

simmering agrodulce

Test the reduction on a cold plate to check for a fairly thick syrupy consistency.

testing the reduction

Balsamic Agrodulce Recipe:

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup glucose

Gnocchi And Lamb Sugo Step 5: | Prep The Veg

Broccoli rabe and sausage is a classic combination in Italy. The Thai basil adds a unique and awesome flavor to this dish.

Start buy cutting off the stalks and separating the individual spears florets of broccoli rabe.

broccoli rabe

broccoli rabe florets

Slice the buffalo mozzarella in half, and then slice into half moons.

buffalo mozzarella

Pick the Thai basil leaves, mince 2 shallots and 4 cloves of garlic.

Gnocchi And Lamb Sugo Step 6: | Cook The Gnocchi And Plate

Start by making small individual pieces of the lamb sausage roughly the same size as the gnocchi and season with salt and pepper.

pieces of lamb sausage

On high heat with a little olive oil, brown the sausage in a large saute pan.

cooking the lamb sausage

Remove the sausage from the pan so it doesn’t over cook. Make sure to leave the fat in the pan.

removing the lamb sausage from the pan

Cook the shallots and garlic in the sausage fat until light brown.

Remove the saute pan from the heat and immediately add 1 oz. of white wine.

cooking the garlic and shallots in the sausage fat

Next, add the lamb stock and broccoli rabe.

adding the lamb stock and broccoli rabe

Add 1 tbs. of balsamic agrodulce and slowly reduce.

adding the agrodulce

In a separate pot filled with boiling salted water, cook the gnocchi.

cooking the gnocchi

Once they float add them to the saute pan with the broccoli rabe and add 1 tbs. of butter.

adding the gnocchi to the saute pan with butter

Add the browned sausage back to the pan and reduce until thick and the gnocchi are coated with the sauce. Adjust the seasoning at this point.

adding the browned sausage back to the pan

reducing the gnocchi in sauce

Remove from the heat and add the Thai basil leaves.

adding the Thai basil leaves

Toss the gnocchi, and plate the dish.

plating the gnocchi dish

Add the buffalo mozzarella and garnish with fresh basil flowers.

Garnishing with buffalo mozzarella and basil flowers


Finish with cracked pepper and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.


When taking on this recipe it is important to remember a few things…

The stock takes time, but it doesn’t need to be babied. Get it started in the morning the day before and go do something else.  Just make sure it’s not boiling, and check on it every now and then to skim the fat off.

For the sausage, if you can’t find guanciale, substitute with pancetta. Always use a good quality lamb shoulder. If you don’t have a meat grinder then ask your butcher to do it for you, and mix the sausage yourself. This lamb sausage recipe is tasty, and also makes a killer lamb burger.

When it comes time to milling and rolling the gnocchi  you will need to be more mindful, because this is where most people cock it up.  Just follow the recipe, have some finesse, and you will be good.

The tools make all the difference. You will need a good food mill anyways, for when we show you how to make proper mashed potatoes in a future blog post. So sack up and invest in one…you will thank us later.

The rest is all a piece of cake.

Want more info on the diverse history of Italy’s favorite dumpling?

Check out this quick article from Saveur.

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