Matzo Gnocchi with Brisket Ragu

This hearty dish combines two Passover favorites, brisket and matzo, in a fun, meaty recipe that's loosely based on Italian bolognese. To make easy work out of shredding the brisket for this ragu, we opted to braise it whole in the oven until it's fall-apart tender. Kosher meats are quite salty, so we don't specify salting the brisket before searing it. If you're using non-kosher meat, however, we recommend that you sprinkle it with salt before browning it. By Stephanie Alleyne for Food Network Kitchen
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 5 hr 30 min
  • Active: 2 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

Brisket Ragu:

Gnocchi:

Directions

  1. For the brisket ragu: Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or large ovenproof pot with a lid over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the meat fat-side down and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Carefully flip the meat with tongs and brown on the other side, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.   
  3. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot and stir to scrape up the browned bits. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook, stirring frequently, until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently to avoid scorching, until the tomato paste is dark red and slightly sticky, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, broth and bay leaves and season generously with black pepper.  
  4. Submerge the brisket in the sauce fat-side down; pour in any accumulated juices from the dish. Bring the sauce just to a boil, then cover the pot and immediately transfer to the oven. Cook until the sauce is thickened and the brisket is very tender, 2 to 3 hours. 
  5. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the brisket to a rimmed baking sheet. Shred the brisket with two forks. Stir the meat back into the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. The sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead.
  6. For the gnocchi: Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover by 1 inch with salted water. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat and simmer until they are tender when pierced with a fork or the tip of a paring knife, about 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set them aside until cool enough to handle. 
  7. Remove the skins with a paring knife and cut the potatoes into large chunks. Pass the chunks through a potato ricer (see Cook's Note) onto a clean work surface. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of salt over the potatoes and let them cool completely. 
  8. While the potatoes are cooling, pulse the matzo meal in a spice grinder or blender until very finely ground (it should be similar in texture to flour). Line a baking sheet with parchment.  
  9. Sprinkle 2 cups of the matzo meal over the cooled potatoes. Pour the eggs over the matzo meal and begin to work the mixture together with a fork. Once the mixture begins to clump together, use your hands to gently knead until the ingredients are fully combined, about 2 minutes. Gather the dough into a smooth ball and let rest for about 15 minutes.  
  10. Lightly dust a work surface with a some of the reserved matzo meal. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a 12-inch rope. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut the rope into 3/4-inch pieces; place the cut gnocchi on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Gnocchi can be prepared to this point up to 2 days ahead; wrap the baking sheet in plastic and refrigerate. 
  11. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, add about a third of the gnocchi at a time and cook until they begin to float and the water returns to a rapid simmer, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the gnocchi to a platter or individual serving bowls. Ladle ragu over the gnocchi, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.  
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