Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. In a large ovenproof casserole pot sauté onion, carrot and celery in olive oil with a generous pinch of salt for 5-10 minutes. Add crushed garlic and cook for another minute. While this is cooking remove excess fat from beef and cut into matchbox size cubes.
Add beef to pot along with tinned tomato, stock, bay leaves and red wine to taste. Stir all ingredients together and wrap pot tightly with 2 layers of foil or cover with a well-fitting lid. Bake in the oven for 2.5 hours or until meat is tender and almost falling apart. I recommend checking at the 1.5-hour mark to ensure there is enough liquid in the pot, if not stir and top up with water or wine.
Remove meat from pot using a slotted spoon and put into the baking dish you will use to bake the gnocchi in. Reduce sauce that is left until it is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon. Once reduced add the passata and add to the beef in the baking dish.
Once the gnocchi are cooked and drained add to the baking dish and stir gently into ragù to combine and submerge. Top with sliced mozzarella, increase oven temperature to 200 degrees Celsius and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with grated parmesan and fresh basil. You can make the ragù a few days in advance and gently heat to loosen the sauce before adding the gnocchi to it. For vegetarians, the gnocchi is delicious with tomato sugo, fresh mozzarella and basil.
Peel potatoes, cut in half if small, thirds if large, and place in a microwave-safe container with a dash of water and a tight-fitting lid or seal fully with cling film.
Microwave on high for 15 minutes, taking out to rearrange the potatoes at 5-minute intervals so they cook evenly. Make sure they are completely soft. If not keep going for 2-minute intervals.
Alternatively, steam in a saucepan for 15-20 minutes keeping the potatoes well above the water level in a metal steamer basket.
Push cooked potato through a ricer, sieve, or a Moulex legume into a large bowl. Add 1+1/2 cups flour, egg, and salt. Holding your hand like a claw mix together to form a dough.
It will be sticky to start with. Tip remaining flour on bench and tip dough onto this. Wash hands then knead the dough with the extra flour for 1-2 minutes. It should soft but no longer be as sticky. Add extra flour if it’s too sticky to manage. Divide into 4-5 balls, coat with flour and roll out one at a time on a well-floured bench.
Roll each ball out like a sausage and cut pieces of gnocchi which are about 2cm x 2cm. Place on a large tray lined with cling film or baking paper while you roll out the remaining dough.
To cook gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and once it is at a rolling boil drop in gnocchi. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your saucepan.
Next to this have your ragu ready to go in a baking dish. When the gnocchi are cooked, they will float to the surface of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon and put directly into the beef ragu and passata mixture.
Top with mozzarella and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden.