Pastas/Noodles · Poultry · Sunday Family Dinner

Fresh Pappardelle with Duck Sugo

Duck Sugo

 

I love duck.

It’s something I enjoy ordering when eating out….confit de canard, pan seared duck breast, or even a glistening Chinese style roasted Peking duck. But it’s not something I really make at home. So when we chose it as the main star for our last Sunday Family Dinner, it took me awhile to decide what I wanted my contribution to the meal would be.

Duck Sugo

The teenagers have been exposed to duck for years now but I was wary of serving the younger muchkins something along the lines of a rare pan seared duck breast. Not that they don’t have refined palates (they shovel down high end sashimis and lobsters like no one’s business) but I wanted to make something that I knew would go over easy and while expanding their taste buds.

A sugo over fresh pasta seemed like a no brainer. Slow braised and simmered so that everything would be married together in flavor.

Sunday Family Dinner

As I shared in my last post, we picked up whole ducks (heads, beaks, feet and all!) that I warily broke down. And although it did test my psyche as I took a huge cleaver to the little duckies, you do get the best bang for your buck when you go with this route.

Plus, I was able to use all the leftover parts to create a rich, deep duck stock that we not only ended up using in the sugo but had quarts leftover for later use.

Sunday Family Dinner

While the stock simmered away, I took on the mise. Yup…that’s right. Any slow cooked sauce I make almost always contains a mirepoix. Translation? Lots and lots of diced onions, carrots and celery. And of course there must also be lots of garlic and fresh herbs.

Sunday Family Dinner

To add an extra depth of flavor, I used reconstituted porcini mushrooms. The mushrooms and their liqueur (the liquid that reconstituted the ‘shrooms) were both used in the sugo.

And if you haven’t noticed, I’m kinda obsessed with ‘shrooms of all sorts.

Duck Sugo

Once the mise is done, I get to browning the duck. Because I don’t care what anyone says— browned meat before a slow cook always makes things taste nice.

Sunday Family Dinner

After the duck is golden brown, you remove it from the pot to allow it to rest. Using the leftover olive oil and rendered duck fat, start sweating away the mirepoix. At some point, cubed pancetta also gets thrown into the mix.

And yes, I realize that this is a duck dish but are you really surprised that I would sneak some pork into the party somehow?

Duck Sugo

Next comes the poricinis, its liqueur, white vino and some more homemade duck stock.

By the way, if you’re not as obsessive as yours truly, feel free to substitute with store bought duck or chicken stock. I wouldn’t blame you for it.

Duck Sugo

Once this all done, you throw the browned duck back into the pot, plop a lid on it and slide it into the oven for about 1.5-2 hours so that it can do it’s magic. Where are the pictures of this step?

Um…let’s just say that someone was too busy drinking a cocktail and forgot to snap a photo of it. Oh who are we kidding…that someone was me.

You can also take this opportunity to finagle your big seester into making fresh pappardelle pasta.  Sure, you can use store-bought but this is what big seesters are for. For making homemade pasta and to bail you out of jail helping out in tricky situations.

Sunday Family Dinner

Once the duck becomes super tender, you remove it from the veggies and shred it into pieces. Then, blend up the veggies and add the meat back into the pot for a last simmer. Once it’s all done, toss the sugo with the fresh al dente pappardelle and top with a bright gremolata.

Heaven.

Especially when you add the bright notes from the gremolata and earthiness from the parmesan.

Duck Sugo

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not a quick process. Not even close!

But sugos are meant for slow cooking days when you’re hanging out at home with loved ones, sipping on vino (or cocktails — or BOTH!) and when you just want to cook something delicious to share with your loved ones to show—well, how much you love them.

Perfect for a Sunday Family Dinner.

Sunday Family Dinner

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Fresh Pappardelle with Duck Sugo
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 quart duck or chicken stock, divided
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
4 pounds skinless, duck thighs and breasts (bone in)
2 cups diced white onions
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced carrots
4 ounces diced pancetta
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
6-8 rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped sage
¼ cup finely minced parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1½ pound pappardelle pasta
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Heat ½ cup of the duck (chicken) stock and place in a small bowl. Add the dried porcinis, ensuring that all the mushrooms are covered in the liquid. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat. Season the duck with kosher salt and black pepper. In batches, brown all sides of the duck and remove to a large plate to rest.

Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add the pancetta, garlic, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the dried porcini mushrooms that were reconstituted in the stock, saving the liquid (its liqueur). Pour in the wine and stir the vegetables around. Cook until the liquids have been reduced by half. Stir in the liquid that the porcinis were reconstituted in–careful not to add in the mushroom grit/sand. Add the remaining duck (chicken) stock and allow the liquids to come to a boil.

Nestle the browned duck back into the pot amongst the vegetables along with the thyme, rosemary and sage. Once the liquids come back up to a boil, cover the pot and place into a 300 degree F oven for 1.5 -2 hours, until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone.

While the duck braises, prepare the gremolata. In a small bowl, add the parsley, lemon zest, remaining red pepper flakes and a few pinches of kosher salt. Use a fork and mash the ingredients together allowing the natural oils from the parsley and lemon to be released. Set aside.

Once the duck has finished cooking and is very tender, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Transfer the duck to a platter and allow to cool slightly. Once the meat is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and shred it into bite sized pieces.

Returning to the pot of vegetables, skim off and discard as much oil/fat from the surface as possible. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables until it becomes a fairly smooth sauce. Taste and adjust with additional salt or pepper as needed. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a standard blender or food processor. Add the shredded duck back to the pot and allow the items to simmer and thicken the sauce over low heat for an additional 10-15 minutes.

While the sugo simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pappardelle until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the starchy water.

Add the cooked pappardelle into the sugo, coating the pasta well. If you want a looser based sauce, add a tablespoon at a time of the starchy pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Plate the pasta with the sugo and top each plate with the grated parmesan cheese and gremolata.

Enjoy!

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Pork · Poultry · Seafood

Cook’s Illustrated Paella

Spanish Paella prepared in a Dutch Oven

I’ll tell ya…..the holidays were quite productive in our kitchen. From sweets to savories to old time classics and new Foodventures. What a whirlwind!

On one particular evening, we were able to check off another dish off my “must make” list—PAELLA! We turned to Cook’s Illustrated version of Paella since it didn’t require the traditional paella pan but used a heavy dutch oven instead. It was perfect because although I love the look of paella pans I don’t have the storage space to keep them.

We were all very happy with the end results of the dish. Especially because we achieved the coveted soccarat–the crunchy rice that forms at the bottom of the pan!

I did have two “uh-oh” moments that were completely my fault. First, we added much more seafood than the recipe called for. When it comes to seafood in my family—more is better. As a result of the extra seafood, we had so much excess liquid in the pot. We ended up having to spoon out some of the liquid because too much moisture equals no soccarat.

The second challenge we needed to problem solve was that I left the lid on during step 6. The lid trapped the steam into the pot and would have never allowed the lovely soccarat layer to form. Per my sister’s quick thinking, we took off the lid and returned the pot into the oven under the broiler setting. The paella was left under the broiler until it browned and then we switched it back to the stove (lid off!) to complete step 6. PHEW! Luckily it all worked! Lesson learned.

This Paella was just a Pot of Goodness. You’re going to want to make this one. For Reals. Like right now.

Just learn from my mistakes and read each step carefully 🙂

Cheers Friends!

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Paella
From Cooking at Home with America’s Test Kitchen 2006

This paella recipe calls for making it in a Dutch oven (the Dutch oven should be 11 to 12 inches in diameter with at least a 6-quart capacity). With minor modifications, it can also be made in a paella pan. Cured Spanish chorizo is the sausage of choice for paella, but fresh chorizo or Portuguese linguiça is an acceptable substitute.

Soccarat, a layer of crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a traditional part of paella. In our paella, soccarat does not develop because most of the cooking is done in the oven. We have provided instructions to develop soccarat in step 5; if you prefer, skip this step and go directly from step 4 to step 6.—the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:

1 Pound Extra-Large Shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
8 or 9 Medium Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (2 generous tablespoons)
1 Pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise
1 Red Bell Pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
8 Ounces Spanish Chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
1 Medium Onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
One 14.5 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
2 Cups Valencia or Arborio Rice
3 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
1/2 Teaspoon Saffron Threads, crumbled
1 Dried Bay Leaf
1 Dozen Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 Cup Frozen Peas, thawed
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
1 Lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position; heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Toss the shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until the skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pepper to a small plate and set aside.

3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the now-empty Dutch oven; heat the oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer; cook, without moving the pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the pieces and brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer the chicken to a medium bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chorizo to the pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and the fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to the bowl with the chicken and set aside.

4. Add enough oil to the fat in the Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes; cook until the mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the grains are well coated with the tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven; cook until the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the paella from the oven (close the oven door to retain heat). Uncover the paella; scatter the shrimp over the rice, insert the mussels hinged-side down into the rice (so they stand upright), arrange the bell pepper strips in a pinwheel pattern, and scatter the peas over the top. Cover and return to the oven; cook until the shrimp are opaque and the mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Optional: If soccarat (see headnote) is desired, set the Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, rotating the pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.

7. Let the paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and the bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle the paella with the parsley and serve, passing the lemon wedges separately.

Beef · Pastas/Noodles

Breaking in the New Dutch Oven with a Short Ribs Ragu

I have dreamed of having my very own Le Creuset Dutch Oven for a long time. And for a “long time”, I mean longer than I even knew what it really was or how fabulous they really were. I think the first memories I could recall of it was back in the day when “The Frugal Gourmet” had one on his stove in the 80’s. And although as a kid I thought it was just a “pretty pot”, I knew I wanted one when I grew up.

As I grew older and found out how much they actually cost, I could not bring myself to buy one. This is not to say that I didn’t think it was worth it but a few hundred bucks is pretty steep! Alas, I had to be content to utilize my siblings’ when the chance arose.  🙂

But this past Christmas…my Culinary Life changed when my awesome sister gave my boyfriend and I a gorgeous 7.25 quart round Dutch Oven. I squealed in delight as I hugged our new beauty—finally, we had one of our very own. Dreamy.

Then the next question arose….what were we going to make to break in our new dutch oven??? As silly as this may sound, I wanted a recipe that would require us to utilize as many components of the pot as we could—searing, braising, roasting, sautéing, etc. Heck, it was the first time we would be using it after all! 🙂

I finally settled upon a recipe by Bobby Flay for a Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle. Although I have NEVER been a fan of how Bobby Flay portrays himself on television, his food more times than not, looks delish.

We followed the recipe with the exceptions a few edits and were happy to find that it was pretty simple (although somewhat laborious and lengthy). The end results? D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. The ribs were succulent and tender with the aromatics giving the meat a rich flavor.

A few things about our take on the dish:

  1. We omitted the Port & substituted with beef stock. Ruby Port is often too sweet for me in my savory dishes.
  2. We decided not to remove the beef from the bones and served it directly over the pasta. Next time, I think we’ll do it though to get rid of some of the excess gristle and fat.
  3. Although the recipe doesn’t state to, season with extra salt and pepper before dishing over the pasta. My “Better Half” thinks a bit of heat would complement the dish. Perhaps some red chili flakes?
  4. This recipe could easily serve 6 adults.
  5. We had the leftovers a few days later and served the ribs over mashed potatoes—YUM!

I would definitely recommend this recipe and will make it again (with a few tweaks). If you’re planning on tackling this one, keep in mind–it needs at least 3 hours in the oven for the ribs to get tender. It’s okay though, time goes by quickly if you have a snackie and a glass of vino. 🙂

ENJOY! 🙂

 

 

Heavily season the Short Ribs with fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt.

Browning the ribs. The more brown bits the better! 🙂

Browned Ribs = Tons of flavor! 🙂

Cooking down the Shallots and Mirepoix

Short Ribs back in with the liquids & bouquet garni and ready to be put in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours. Yup, I said THREE! 🙂

The finished Short Ribs (with bone -in) over Pappardelle. Garnished with Pecorino Romano and Flat Leaf Parsley.

Did I mention how much I LOVE our new Dutch Oven! And yes, it really does make a difference! 🙂