Blanquette of veal, saffron gnocchi, broad beans, sage

Blanquette of veal, saffron gnocchi, broad beans, sage

New Classics
Mark Roper

As the name suggests, blanquette of veal is a ‘white’ ragout traditionally served with similarly pale sides, such as rice, noodles or potato. I’m one of those people who eats with their eyes, so I thought I would brighten up the dish with some vibrant ingredients. The musky saffron and sage butter combination, along with the broad beans, is a triumph.



Quantity Ingredient
4 x 350-400g veal shanks or osso bucco
2 leek, white part only
1 onion
garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
olive oil, for frying
plain flour, for dusting
salt and white pepper
1 x 170ml bottle of dry white wine
2 litres Chicken stock
100g unsalted butter, plus an extra knob
2 bunches small salad, or spring onions, or about 18 shallots, peeled, halved and trimmed
6-8 sage leaves
280g broad beans, peeled


Quantity Ingredient
1kg large floury potatoes, such as russet, desiree or sebago
1 tablespoon olive oil
a large pinch saffron threads
100g plain
30g cornflour
salt and white pepper

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
parmigiano reggiano or grana padano


  1. For the blanquette

    Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Place the shanks in a deep saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat then pour into a colander and rinse with cold water. (This process purges any blood from the bones and means the blanquette will stay white, or ‘blanc’ – hence the name.)
  3. Allow the shanks to dry while you prepare the ‘mirepoix’. Cut the leeks, onion and celery into large thumb-sized pieces, noting that this is a braise and will be cooking for a long time so you don’t want the vegetables to break down and become squishy, as this will ruin the clarity of the sauce.
  4. Sweat the vegetables, garlic and herbs in olive oil over medium heat until tender, fragrant and lightly coloured.
  5. Dry the shanks thoroughly on paper towel. Season some flour with salt and white pepper and roll the shanks in this, then pat off the excess.
  6. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and fry the shanks in a little oil to lightly colour them. Drain on paper towel.
  7. Put the shanks and vegetables into a large flameproof casserole or baking dish over medium heat on the stovetop. Pour on the wine and let it boil down by about half. Add the chicken stock and bring back to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and lay a piece of baking paper over the surface. Either put a lid on if using a casserole or cover the baking tray with foil. Put into the oven for about 2 hours or until the meat falls easily off the bone. Let the shanks cool in the stock for at least an hour to ensure the meat stays moist and delicious.
  8. Remove the shanks and take the meat off the bone. Break the meat into nice morsels, about the same size that the gnocchi will be. Reheat the braising liquid and strain it into a large saucepan. Reduce to a saucelike consistency.
  9. For the gnocchi

    Put the potatoes, washed if necessary but unpeeled, into a saucepan large enough so that they aren’t stacked on top of each other. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender, until you can easily pierce the potato with a fork.
  10. In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil over low heat and add the saffron. Once the saffron is warmed through add 1 tablespoon water and swirl the pan as the water evaporates. This process will leach the colour from the saffron.
  11. Drain the cooked potatoes and peel them with a small knife. You will need to peel them while they’re hot so use a tea towel (dish towel) to protect your hands.
  12. Press the potatoes through a drum sieve directly onto a work surface, working quickly so they don’t cool down.
  13. Add the saffron mixture to the potato then add the flours. Season to taste.
  14. Using a pastry card, chop the ingredients together until partially combined, then use your hands to bring the mixture together as a dough.
  15. Knead the dough briefly. Dust your work surface with a little plain flour. Cut off portions of the dough and roll into cylinders about 3 cm thick.
  16. Cut and dust the gnocchi lightly with flour and put on a tray. Once all the gnocchi is made, put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to firm up.
  17. In the meantime bring a deep saucepan of salted water to the boil. Have a slotted spoon and a big bowl of iced water at hand. Reduce the heat of the water to a gentle boil. Blanch the gnocchi in batches so as not to cool the water down too much.
  18. When the gnocchi float to the surface, wait 30 seconds then gently remove them with the slotted spoon and drop straight into the iced water. When they are all cooked, strain into a colander and drizzle with a little olive oil. Put on a tray and set aside
  19. Heat the knob of butter in a heavy-based frying pan over medium and add the onions. Sweat them off briefly then add enough water or chicken stock to cover. Put a lid on and simmer until tender.
  20. Warm the sauce and meat together in a large frying pan over low heat. In another large frying pan, heat the 100 g (3½ oz) of butter over medium heat until it starts to become golden then add the sage leaves. When the sage is becoming crisp add the onions and broad beans and a splash of water or stock. Add the gnocchi and swirl to heat through. You may need to add more liquid so the gnocchi doesn’t catch. Season with salt and white pepper.
  21. To serve

    Divide the gnocchi and vegetables onto serving plates. Spoon over the veal and sauce and scatter over the sage leaves. Using a vegetable peeler, shave some parmesan over each dish and serve.
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