Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Duck ragú

The confit operation that was needed for cassoulet left me with 2 duck legs with nowhere to go. So into the ragú they went. But much like cassoulet itself, making ragú is such a time-consuming enterprise that you might want to double the batch . If the legs are small (under 200 g) you might want to use 3 instead of 2.

As far as the prep goes, there are two ways of doing it: either stewing it in the sauce until it's fall-off-the-bone tender or roast it first and then finish cooking over slow heat. Since this recipe from Jamie (I would love to think I and Mr. Oliver were actually on first name basis...!) also made use of the crisp duck skin (which, let's face is sort of the best part anyway!) in the form of pangritata; a crisp crumble made of the duck skin and some stale bread sprinkled on top of the ragú, I, too, went for roasting. Ragú could also be made in the oven in low temperature: just forget it in there for a couple of hours and let it come together!

Recommended wine for this is Italian Chianti, which our extensive wine reservoirs (at the time down to one bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon) didn't stock. The most ideal pasta would be pappardelle, which I was sure we had. Turned out we didn't (who the hell is running this production?!), so tagliatelle it was. You could of course make your own pasta too - see the recipe here!

Serves 2 (fairly generously)

The duck:

2 (large) duck legs
2 large garlic cloves
4 sprigs of thyme (or a couple of sprigs of rosemary)
olive oil, salt, pepper

Rub salt and pepper onto the ducks. Peel and gently bruise the garlic cloves with the back of a knife. Place them, along with the herbs into a small roasting tin/ oven dish that snugly accommodates the ducks. Roast at 180 for an hour until the skin is crisp and duck is done. Baste a couple of times with the duck fat that seeps into the bottom of the dish. If your ducks don't really have any fat, drizzle some olive oil on top.

Remove from the dish and let cool for a while. Drain the fat (use it for sweating the sofrito). Peel the skin off the duck and pull the meat apart.

Rinse the oven dish with a dash of red wine, scraping off any bits stuck to the bottom - we want to get all the flavours out.

The sauce:

1 onion
1 small carrot (or 1/2 larger one)
1/2 celery stick
1 (cassia)cinnamon stick
4 allspice peppers
1,5 dl red wine
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs of thyme (or a couple of sprigs of rosemary)
1/2 dl raisins
1 tin of crushed tomatos
1/2 tin of water
1 tbsp game fond (or 1/2 chicken stock cube)

Prepare sofrito: finely chop the onion and dice celery and carrot into small cubes. Sweat them in either olive oil or duck fat until soft - about 15 minutes. Then pour in red wine and let reduce for about 15 minutes. Then add rest of the ingredients along with duck meat. Let simmer over moderate heat for 1,5 hours or so until the sauce has reduced, thickened and is fairly dry.

Cook pasta according to the instructions on the packet, toss into the ragú and scatter the pangritata on top. Oh yeah, and some parmesan.


The skins from the ducks
small slice of stale bread (or 1 generous tbsp bread crumbs)
1 tbsp fresh parsley or thyme
1 small garlic clove

Blizz the ingredients in a blender. Heat a small pan and toast the crumbs until very crisp (use either olive oil or duck fat) over medium heat. Scatter on top of the pasta.




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