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Duck Ragu and an Amazing Caprese - A pictorial...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
NRatched had a special day today. The next step in her career...so I thought she deserved a special meal the night before. I asked what she wanted and she simply said "Pasta with a Homemade Sauce". That translated to me to be Duck Ragu with Pappardelle....and whatever else "fun" I picked up at the store. We usually cook together but every once in a while we do the "the other person is not allowed in the kitchen, it's a surprise" deal...tonight was my night in the kitchen. When we do this, the other usually picks up the wine...it's kind of a "hint". So I said "Pick up a nice bottle of Chianti"

Since she wasn't allowed in the kitchen, excuse the poor pictures...and some missing ones...I had to use my "easy" lense by myself. Also, I made the pictures "Small" but click them if you want to see bigger...

First, I'll start with my first course...I spotted these ingredients at the market, and just had to. Local Heirlooms and Jersey Reds....

I remember we had a discussion regarding caprese a little while back. I'm here to confirm....don't even bother making or offering it at a restaurant if the tomatoes aren't local, fresh, and tasty!!!! The DIFFERENCE is...night and day. This was, by FAR, the best caprese we have ever eaten. THE best. Undescribable....no...really...you have no idea.

- How do I keep chiffonaded basil from darkening? Knife was sharp...what's the trick. I remember reading about tearing, vs. slicing, etc. but don't remember the details.

Ok Ok now on to the main course.....now I made the app. while the main was cooking, so it's a little out of order picture wise...but you get the idea)

here is the Mario Batali recipe I used.

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup virgin olive oil
2 eggs
1 to 4 tablespoons cool water
1/2 cup pomace olive oil, for frying Sauce:
4 duck legs and thighs, skin removed
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
8 ounces red wine (Chianti preferred)
1 pound canned tomatoes, peeled whole
1 cup chicken stock
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

Stir together flour and salt and add olive oil, stirring with a whisk. Add eggs and mix with hands until sticky. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough stays together. Knead 5 to 8 minutes until pliable. Cover and allow to rest 15 minutes. Ragu:
Wash duck legs and remove all fat. Pat dry.
In a thick bottomed casserole or Dutch oven, heat olive oil until smoking. Add duck legs and cook until brown on all sides and remove, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add onion, carrot, garlic and celery and cook until softened, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes, chicken stock and dried mushrooms and bring to a boil. Add duck legs and return to boil, lower heat, cover and allow to simmer for 1 hour. Remove duck legs and allow to cool. Pull all meat off the bones and return to pot, without the bones. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, or until quite thick. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Roll the pasta dough out to its thinnest setting and then cut by hand into pappardelle, about 1 to 11/4 inch thick.
Heat 2 cups duck ragu in a 12 to 14 inch saute pan until quite hot. Boil pappardelle until cooked, about 1 minute and drain well. Put hot pappardelle into pan with duck ragu and toss well. Pour into serving bowl and serve immediately.

Some notes/questions before we start:

- I cheated and bought fresh pasta sheets from the market...and cut the pasta from them. While I love to make fresh pasta, I like to make it when I have a helper otherwise things get "messy" fast....and I don't have a kitchen-aid, just a hand power and hand crank.

- be sure to reconsititute/rinse the mushrooms if using dried...get all the grit out.

- Duck legs are harder to skin than I thought.

Ok let's start...

- The stuff on the right is the skin, and the fat (and some meat, where I couldn't help it) My question is...I was smart enough to freeze it....but what can I use it for in the future? any "duck skin" dishes?

I skipped photographing the next step. But I simply heated my Le Creuset to a good temp, heated some EVOO until it just about smoked....and browned on each side for 6 minutes...ish..on each. then removed.

While they were browing I prepped my Mirepoix (and sliced garlic)

When the duck legs were done, I removed and put the mirepoix in for about 8ish minutes? until soft...

then I added the wine, stock, rinsed mushrooms, and tomatoes (with juices) and brought to a boil....

I used an 8.99 bottle of chianti...unfortunately no 2buck chuck available, and other than carlo rossi jug wine this was the only option....no worries..the rest will go to use.

No pictures, but remember to rinse....

and use low sodium...

and San Marzano (if not using fresh local)

Bring to a boil, add the duck legs back in, bring to a boil again, then cover and simmered for about an hour...

In the meantime....open this up...

the bottle NRatched brought home.

after about an hour...I removed the duck legs, and took all the meat off the bones with a fork. (and tried not to eat it)

put it back in...and uncovered reduced it for about a half-hour (here is where I made and we ate the "amazing" caprese)

Skipped the step of cutting the pasta, but basically I bought fresh sheets from the market, and just cut them....pretty simple. had the water already boiling.

Strained well, and dumped right in the pot of sauce....if you're making a lot...and want to save the sauce, do as the recipe says...

the final product.......

Some closing notes:
Dinner was ~35$...that included the 8.99 chianti, but not the one NRatched brought home. I had the porcinis, carrots, celery, and garlic...everything else I bought. It is enough for 4-6 people easy....I took leftovers for lunch that I'm about to eat. 35/4=8.75 per person...thats not too bad at all....

I started at 6, and we ate at 7:45-8...in between was an hour or so of watching TV.

For dessert, I picked up some small ready made marscapone/coffee/chocolate tart things for 1.50 each at the market.....nothing special. No pics...sorry.

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post #2 of 5
I'm drooling.

I roll my basil leaves from stem to tip, then chiffonade.
It breaks fewer cells this way, limiting the browning.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
yep, that's how I did it too.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
any feedback on the recipe or process to make it better?

any feedback on what I can use the duck skin/fat for ?

post #5 of 5
Oh, my, what a delectable dish! Thank you for the wonderful details of the process.

As for the duck fat and skin: You can render the fat from the skin. Run the liquid fat through several layers of cheesecloth (set inside a strainer), put into a glass jar and allow to cool. Keep it tightly closed in the fridge. There's almost nothing better than potatoes fried in duck fat- french fries, home fries, etc.

The cracklings from the skin are great sprinkled on a salad (in place of lardons), as a garnish on mashed potatoes or other mashed root veggies. Or, as a wonderful snack!!!! The Yiddish word for these cracklings is "gribenes". I plead guilty to stealing half of the gribenes from when my mom did this with chicken fat and skin (schmaltz). :lips:
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