Friday, November 2, 2018

Braised Beef Cheeks over Garlic Gnocchi + Statti Calabria Gaglioppo 2015 #ItalianFWT

This month the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers are exploring Gaglioppo & Calabria with Katarina at Grapevine Adventures at the lead. You can read her preview here. If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join the live Twitter chat on Saturday, November 3rd at 8am Pacific time. Follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT. But, first, here's what the group is sharing...

I have been to Calabria, actually a handful of times, but it's always been more of a pitstop on my way to and from Sicity versus a region that I explored on its own. I will have to change that one of these days.

Calabria is the Italian region that occupies the toe of the Italian boot. A peninsula bounded by the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, Calabria is separated from Sicily by the narrow Strait of Messina.

In My Glass
Gaglioppo is one of the grapes that is cultivated there and winemaking has been in the area since the time of the ancient Olympic games. So, logic followed that Gaglioppo had Greek origins, but recent DNA tests indicate that the grape exhibits a close genetic relationship between Sangiovese and ten other Italian grape varieties. So, it's a distinct varietal that includes several parent grapes.

I was only able to track down one bottle - Statti Calabria Gaglioppo 2015 - so it's difficult to say if this is typical. But the wine was intense and full-bodied with solid acidity and noticeable tannins. I found it very food friendly and enjoyed the fruit and spice balance.

Alberto and Antonio Statti have been shining the spotlight on many indigenous varietals, including Magliocco, Gaglioppo, Mantonico and Greco Bianco. The Statti are fourth generation in a family of farmers whose goal is to help the Calabrian wine region reach its potential.

On My Plate
I decided to pair the wine with what I consider comfort food: homemade gnocchi with long-braised beef. And I came across a package of beef cheek meat in the freezer at Whole Foods. That was a new one for me. So, I went with it.


Braised Beef Cheeks
  • 1 T  olive oil
  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds beef cheek meat
  • 1 C onion, peeled and diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-1/2 C broth (I used beef broth)
  • 1-1/2 C red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • parmesan for serving, optional

Garlic Gnocchi
  • 2 C whole-milk ricotta
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/4 C flour + more for rolling
  • 1-1/2 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • dash of grated nutmeg + more for serving
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Braised Beef Cheeks
Heat the oil in a large, Dutch oven. Stir in the garlic, then add the beef cheek meat into the pot. Sear on each side for  3 to 5 minutes - until a nice brown begins to appear.

Add the onions and let them cook until the onion is translucent and beginning to caramelize.

Pour in the broth and red wine. Stir in the bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Let the meat braise for 3 to 4 hours - longer is fine, if you need to. Once the beef is tender. Use a fork to shred the meat slightly. Raise the heat to reduce the sauce to your desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Garlic Gnocchi
Stir together ricotta, garlic, eggs, cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add flour, stirring with a silicone spatula to form a soft, wet dough. Shape dough on a parchment-lined surface with lightly floured hands. Roll into 1" ropes and cut crosswise into 1" pieces with a lightly floured knife to form pillow dumplings.

To form the gnocchi, press a piece of dough onto the tines of a fork. Use your thumb to create a dimple in the top of the gnocchi. 

Roll the dough down the tines to create gnocchi's signature indentations. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or floured board. 

To cook the gnocchi, bring water to a boil with splash of olive oil and 1 T salt. At a low boil, drop the gnocchi into the water and cook until they float, approximately 1 minute.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the cooked gnocchi. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. 

Divide the gnocchi onto individual serving plates. Spoon the braised meat over the top. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top, if desired. Serve hot.

What a great dinner! Thanks for joining us to learn more about Gaglioppo and Calabria. We'll be back online next month with Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog as we explore Italian sparkling wines. Cin cin!


  1. I have to make gnocchi one of these times. It doesn’t look too difficult right?!

  2. I've never made beef cheeks before, but now I'm inspired to get in the kitchen. Your whole meal looks delicious!

  3. I think I actually drooled on my keyboard over this recipe Cam. YUM

  4. Yummy pairing...I always love your foodie photos.

  5. Your style of cooking is right up my alley and speaks to my heart! Thank you for all the lovely recipes!


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