Sorry we have been quiet for this winter, but we are back in foraging/cooking mode and will be posting lot’s of new recipes.
The Wild garlic season comes to us a little later in Yorkshire, my southern friends have been harvesting for what seems like almost a month, but it has arrived and what a treat it is to have it back in the kitchen.
This recipe was my dinner last night. A simple, warming dish (it might be Spring but its still a bit chilly) that is easy to make and tastes great. I love gnocchi, they are extremely satisfying to both make and eat and when flavoured with something like wild garlic they only need the simplest of sauces. However! I had a real treat as our butchery tutors Colin and Alan had given me some beautiful venison and I used it to make a lovely slow cooked ragu.
I really enjoyed this hearty supper I hope you do too.
If you have not picked wild garlic before here are some identification notes. Remember! Do not anything unless you are 100% positive of your identification. With Wild garlic trust your nose, if it doesn’t smell of garlic don’t eat it.
Wild Garlic Allium ursinum
A hairless perennial that forms large patches. The leaves emerge in early spring growing to 30cm long. They are smooth, oval and pointed and come straight out of the ground on a short leaf stalk. Crush part of a leaf – it smells of Garlic. The flowers follow in April/May and are like little umbrellas of white stars held above the leaves on stalks about 30cm tall. These turn into seeds after a few weeks and what was white stars is now green balls. The whole plant dies back in late spring not to be seen again until the following year.
Wild Garlic Gnocchi with slow cooked Venison ragu. Serves 2 greedy people
For the Gnocchi
1kg Floury potatoes.
350g Plain flour.
2 eggs beaten.
1 large handful of wild garlic leaves finely chopped.
large pinch of salt.
For the venison ragu
1 Carrots finely chopped
2 Onions finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic minced
A little flour
2 Tablespoons tomato puree
3 sprigs of Thyme
1 sprig of Rosemary
1 Teaspoon of Juniper berries
500ml dark meat stock (beef or venison). Maybe a little extra.
First get the ragu on the go as it needs long slow cooking.
Cut the meat into 3cm cubes and dust in seasoned flour. Put a little olive oil a heavy based casserole over a fairly high heat and brown the meat in batches. Set the browned meat aside. In the same pan lightly fry the carrot, onion and garlic until soft. Now return the meat and any resting juices to the pan and add the Tomato puree, Thyme, Rosemary, Juniper and stock. When you have added the stock scrape around the bottom of the casserole to release any of the sticky bits from frying the meat and veg. Cover the casserole and place in the oven at 180 degrees for at least 2 hours top up with extra stock if it looks like it is getting too thick. Serve immediately or cool and chill until required
To make the Gnocchi
Take the potatoes and prick them all over with a fork, put them into the oven with the casserole and bake for approximately 1 hour or until cooked through. Once the potatoes are baked remove them from the oven and allow to cool slightly before scooping out the fluffy insides into a large bowl. Add the flour and eggs to the bowl along with the wild garlic and season well. work the mixture into a thick dough with your hands. Just bring the mixture together do not knead as this will make your gnocchi tough.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll 1 piece into a long sausage about 2 cm thick. Once you have your sausage, use a large knife to cut it into 2cm slices they should look like little pillows. Put these formed gnocchi onto a lightly floured baking sheet until required. Repeat with the other three pieces of dough
When you are ready to finish off the dish heat your ragu until it is piping hot. Bring a very large pan of salted water to the boil and drop in your gnocchi, cook until they rise to the top of the water and remove with a slotted spoon. If you don’t have a big pan cook them in batches.
Serve warm with venison ragu or the sauce of your choice. I finished the plate off with a grating of parmesan.