I have noticed lately how readily available duck is and I have so many duck recipes that I want to try. This one is from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book ‘My Father’s Daughter’. A cookbook which has been on high rotation on my kitchen bench over the last few months.
The recipe doesn’t require a great deal of skill but it does take time. The duck roasts in a slow oven for 2 hours and then you need to allow a bit of time for the duck to cool before taking off the skin and removing all the meat and shredding. Whilst the duck is roasting you can get busy with making the sauce.
I loved this with the thick ribbons of pappardelle pasta and the gremolata (I do wonder if it should be called ‘pangrattato’ instead as it included breadcrumbs – my Italian lessons in high school didn’t cover this). The whole dish was super impressive and just jam packed with flavour. The lemon zest and parsley in the gremolata cut through the richness. I did make the gremolata a little differently and added some garlic. It’s crunch contrasted with the silky pasta and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Now I wouldn’t have thought this would be a family friendly meal, especially as organic duck doesn’t come cheap, but my kids devoured it. It does feed a lot of people – we got 6 adult serves plus 4 kiddie serves out of it. But this isn’t something I would make mid-week, just for a special dinner as it is indeed special. It even warranted opening a good bottle of Shiraz. But do make the most of cooking duck by using the carcass to make a duck stock and salvaging rendered duck fat to roast potatoes another day.
duck ragu with pappardelle
(slight adaptation of recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book ‘My Father’s Daughter’)
1 large organic duck, washed and dried
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of bacon (or duck bacon), finely diced
1 brown onion, peeled and finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
a couple of sprigs of rosemary, stems discarded and leaves finely chopped
3 400g tins of whole peeled tomatoes
250ml of red wine
100ml tomato puree
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, crushed
zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Trim any excess skin from the opening to the duck cavity and from the back end. Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the duck and season liberally with salt and pepper, both inside the duck and out. Place in a roasting tray breast side up and roast for 2 hours. After 1/2 an hour flip the duck onto it’s back and roast for another 1/2 hour. Repeat turning the duck over every 1/2 hour. Once cooked, set aside to cool slightly.
In a large heavy saucepan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy then add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, garlic and rosemary. Turn the heat down low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of water, wine and season with sea salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and leave the sauce to simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Once the duck has cooled, take the skin off and take off all the meat and shred roughly. Add the duck meat to the sauce, plus the tomato puree, and simmer over a low heat for 1 – 4 hours (I went for 2 hours). Add more water if need be.
For the gremolata, heat the olive oil in a large fry pan over a low heat. Add the breadcrumbs, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Stir frequently until the breadcrumbs and golden brown and toasty. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before stirring through the lemon zest and parsley.
To serve, cook the pasta, drain and divide between serving plates. Ladle over some of the duck ragu and top with a good scattering of gremolata and Parmesan.