I had never cooked a duck before, although I have eaten it heaps and love it. I think I have just been a little scared if it. TV chefs talk about: twice cooking or pouring boiling water over the duck before cooking, they give tips on how to cook the perfect duck breast or how to get the perfect crispy skin. And don't get me started on confit!
You see, a little daunting.
But the old farmer that I bought my duck from at the growers market was not buying into all of that chefy mumbo jumbo. He told me to put it into the oven with salt and pepper for 2 hours on 180 degrees. As simple as that. That was right after he told me that the duck I had just bought was walking around the farm quacking away (his words) only two days before.
In any case, in making this recipe I was let off the hook. It is stress free and foolproof. For a start you don't want the skin anyway, so you didn't need to worry about the crispiness.
I was so happy with my duck purchase and of my choice of recipe. By buying my duck from the growers market, I got a freshly killed, free range duck for $18.00 (the same price as a supermarket free-range chicken) From that duck, we have eaten two meals and there is still a small amount of ragu in the freezer. (It froze well) I also have a pot of duck fat in the fridge just waiting to saute some potatoes and the bones were made into a duck stock that has been put into the freezer. I have usually kept away from duck because of the price. Perhaps not anymore.
We took a batch of duck ragu from the freezer away with us on a recent mini break. Here is it in the photo served with rigatoni as that was all that was in the cupboard.
Do cook duck? If so do you have and tried and tested tips?
• 1 large duck (washed, dried and trimmed of excess fat)
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• salt and pepper
• 4 rashers of pancetta or bacon (finely diced)
• 1 onion (finely diced)
• 2 carrots (finely diced)
• 2 stalks celery (finely diced)
• 5 cloves garlic (finely diced)
• 2 x 12cm stalks of rosemary leaves only or 4 leaves of sage (finely chopped)
• 3 x 400 gram tinned tomatoes
• 1/2 cup chicken or duck stock or water
• 250 ml red wine
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 450 grams pappardelle
the gremolata breadcrumbs
• 1 tablespoon fresh breadcrumbs (toasted)
• 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
• the zest of 2 lemons (finely chopped)
• 2 tablespoons parsley
• a pinch of salt
• grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Rub the duck with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, both inside and out. Roast for 2 hours, turning the duck every half and hour. Once cooked, remove from the roasting pan and set aside until the duck is cool enough to handle. Reserve the duck fat for another use (roast potatoes - yum)
While the duck is roasting, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to medium high heat, in a heavy based pan. Cook the bacon for 5 minutes or until starting to crisp. Stir occasionally. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs and reduce the heat to low. Cook slowly for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Stir occasionally. Add the tinned tomatoes, stock, wine, tomato paste and season to taste. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour, 15 minutes.
Once the duck has cooled, remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones (re-use the bones to make stock) Shred the meat and add it to the ragu. Cook over a very low heat for 2 hours. (Gywneth says 1-4 hours - uncovered) adding splashes of water it the sauce becomes to dry.
To make the gremolata, mix all of the ingredients together and set aside.
Cook the pappadelle and serve the ragu over the top of the pasta. Sprinkle each serving with gremolata and put the parmesan on the table.
This recipe was adapted only slightly from Notes from My Kitchen Table.