Worth-the-wait duck ragu

Two melt downs and several glasses of wine later, I produced this culinary masterpiece. My Italian grandfather would have been so proud. But getting here was not short of sweat and tears.

On Wednesday night, I had stage one of my pre duck ragu melt down.

It was over the parpardelle pasta. In my mind there was no other pasta worthy of  this savory duckatent (sorry) dish. I really, really wanted to make my own. But without a pasta press, the odds of me getting more of a thick, dumpling-like noodle were far more likely than me nailing pasta  on my first run. I owed the duck confit so much more than lumpy starchy noodles, don’t you think? I shopped pasta press attachments for my mixer, but just couldn’t commit didn’t want to spend $100 on my first try at pasta.

Go ahead. Call me a pasta pansy. I deserve it.

Over martinis (Martini Wednesday), DD Girl helped convince me not to have a nervous breakdown over not making the pasta, and it would be okay if I sacrificed cooking pride for quality noodles. (Just this once, I said.) So a call was placed to my favorite Italian market. If you can’t make it yourself, Cupini’s can make it for you. Only parpardelle isn’t a pasta they keep in their fresh supply. It has to be pre-ordered.  And they prefer 48-72 hours warning. Thinking that my duck ragu was to be made on Thursday, I asked if just this once I could pick up my pasta in 24 hours later.

It took a bit of sweet talking (they did my rehearsal dinner and I have a connection to a former store manager) but Cupini’s saved my pasta crisis and promised to have two pounds of fresh parpardelle by 5:10 on Thursday evening.

But personal events (crisis #2) led me to cancel Fire & Wine night on Thursday and reschedule for Friday night. Which was okay because DD Girl and I had already planned for a girls’ night on Friday night. It also gave me more time to confit the duck in advance so that the night of the dinner, I could focus on the ragu.

For a week, I combed recipes for duck ragu. But I couldn’t find one that used duck confit. So I did some combining and came up with….well, I’m not going to hold back – perfection, really.

Here’s how it came together:

1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, and 1 onion (all finely diced) went into my dutch oven along with two tablespoons of duck fat from the night before.

After the veggies were softened, I added four cloves of garlic for about 30 seconds before deglazing with 1/2 cup of red wine (Malbec, because it was what i was drinking.) I let that reduce for a few minutes before adding a large can of whole peeled tomatoes, finely diced, 1 cup of chicken stock and two tablespoons of tomato paste. Also, a pinch of salt and pepper.

Then I turned the heat to low and put the lid on to let the flavors combine.

After about 30 minutes, I added most of the tomato juice from the can of tomatoes, a little more broth (maybe half a cup) and a tablespoon each of dried thyme and oregano.

30 minutes later, I diced up all my duck meat (and maybe gave Gertie a nibble.) Into the dutch oven it went.

Can I pause for a minute and tell you how much I love duck meat? I could eat it every day. Also, did you notice? I finally got a dutch oven! Thank you in-laws!

I waited for as close to 30 minutes as I could, but my house was smelling really good and I couldn’t wait to get the pasta in.

Delicious pasta. You are my friend.

I probably should have withheld a little. Two pounds is quite a bit of pasta, but I used up every ounce of my self-control the night before and so all the pasta went into the salted boiling water.

(And now that I’ve been enjoying leftovers for two days straight, I’m kind of glad I didn’t hold back.)

After a quick 2 minute swim in the boiling water (a little longer because I was frantically trying to locate my tongs, which I had set down absent mindedly) I combined the pasta and a bit of its salty water with my sauce.

I wish this blog had taste-o-net.

Because I’m not sure you truly get how good this was.

I think DD Girl summed it up pretty well…

Sitting outside on the porch, with several bottles of wine, lots of laughter, good friends, fantastic food. I live well.

I may have had a great big bowl of leftovers for breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. I couldn’t wait for lunch.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Worth-the-wait duck ragu

  1. That looks good! Be brave with your pasta – I hand rolled my own many times before I got the mixer attachments and it was fine. Probably not as good as the stuff you bought, but pretty tasty nonetheless.

  2. aande

    OMG. This looks TO DIE FOR! I LOVE duck too. It’s what I always order in restaurants because I am not brave enough to cook it at home. Yum. Yum. Yum!

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