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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Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner: Duck, duck, …huh?

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One of the questions I’ve been receiving a lot over the past few months is….“Are you all still doing your Sunday Family Dinners?”

And the answer is—absolutely YES!

But the truth of the matter is……

Well, you see…..

So, the reason is………..

I’m a terrible Procrastinator.

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GAH! The cat is out of the bag!

It’s terrible, I know. Particularly because I spend hours a day scolding coaching college students on how to avoid procrastination.

Trust me, the hypocrisy irony is not lost on me.

Ugh.

Sunday Family Dinner

So yes…since my last Sunday Family Dinner post in July (insert puppy eyes, shamed face here), mi familia still converge at one of the seesters‘ home and get together to get our cookin’ and eatin’ on.

And it’s been darn delicious too.

I definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity to share the past dinners (for my own personal food diary motives and also to share some tasty eats) so I’m committed to posting one recap a week until I catch up.

So hold me to it!

Sunday Family Dinner

Our March fam-din theme was born the way most of ours come to fruition……..while we’re currently eating/feasting on that particular month’s dinner. Does any one else sit around the table with their family enjoying a meal while talking about what their next meal will be?

Just us? Figures…

Well, the theme for March started off with a single ingredient – DUCK. All the dishes were supposed to contain duck in some sort or fashion.

With the exception of dessert….because we may be adventurous but duck flavored dessert did not excite any of us.

Sunday Family Dinner

Since foie gras is now legal again in California, we were planning on having a variation for appetizers. But at the last minute, foie was no where to be found and we didn’t have the time to get it shipped to us. No biggie…we just had to make a few alterations.

Sunday Family Dinner

After doing a little research, I opted to pick up whole ducks from a local Asian grocery store as it was the most affordable route for us. Just a little FYI–most ducks sold at Asian grocers are Long Island (Pekin). So I swung on by our nearby 99 Ranch Market and picked up two duckies. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that they still had their heads and feet intact until I got home.

<Gulp>

photo 2

I admit, I got a little nervous as I stared into their little eyes. But after a pep talk from big seester (more like a “c’mon, just do it!”), I put on my big girl pants and butchered/broke them down. After a quick thank you to the duckies for feeding us and the initial eebie-jeebies, I got over it. Hey, if I’m going to be a responsible carnivore, I’ve got to do the dirty work sometimes.

The main dish was to be a slow cooked sugo of duck with fresh hand cut pappardelle pasta. But since we had so much leftover duck “parts”, I decided to make a rich stock that would be used in the sugo.

Sunday Family Dinner

We even used the duck skin and fat to make crispy, salty duck cracklings–which were surprisingly easy and a darn delicious way to celebrate every part of the duck.

We opted to use Mario Batali’s technique for the cracklings which was kind of a confit-render-fry method. I highly recommend it.

Sunday Family Dinner

As always, we kicked off dinner with a cocktail. True, it wasn’t a duck themed cocktail but more of a nod to spring. I blended fresh mangoes, passion fruit, strawberries and fresh mint together to create a lovely tropical puree. I combined two parts of the fruit puree, 1 part vodka, 1/2 part coconut rum, 1/4 part fresh lemon juice and topped it all off with lemon sparkling water.

Bright, fresh, and packed a punch.

A duck punch.

Sunday Family Dinner

To keep from getting h’angry, we noshed on baked artichoke-lump crab dib with toasted flat bread.

Didn’t you know that crabs were the ducks of the sea?

Just kidding… wait–am I?

Sunday Family Dinner

And we also thought it may be a good idea to have some greens along with our meal. But our greens came in the form of —-

Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach….

Topped with Fresh Mozzarella….

With a shower of crispy Pancetta…

Studded with the freshly made Duck cracklings.

I mean C’MON guys…this salad was practically Vegan.

Sunday Family Dinner

As I mentioned before, there was fresh hand cut pappardelle pasta. Sure, Trader Joe’s sells a perfectly good, packaged dry pappardelle. But why do that when you can guilt your seester into making the pasta from scratch?

She actually used two recipes for the two batches. The first one from Food and Wine had a better flavor from the extra egg yolks. But we liked the texture better from the one we found here. It’s still a work in progress to find the best pappardelle recipe. Any suggestions?

Sunday Family Dinner

We used the pappardelle noodles to soak up all the goodness from the rich duck sugo that was topped with a bright herb gremolata. I’ll be sharing the recipe for the sugo this Friday.

Sunday Family Dinner

And finally, DESSERT!

We had a lemon-herb pound cake that was soaked in Grand Marnier. The cake was smothered with a whipped cream that had freshly made lemon curd folded into it. It was all then topped with a mound of sweet macerated strawberries.

Did you know the nickname for strawberries is duck-berries?

Is that too far of a stretch? 🙂

Sunday Family Dinner

And that, dear Friends, is a wrap on our “beak to tail”, all things most things Duck themed Family Dinner. I do promise to catch up on previous dinners as there is a lot of goodness to share!

Sunday Family Dinner

And how adorable are our munchkins?

 

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Tropical Rum Punch
Appetizers: Baked Artichoke-Lump Crab Dib
Entrees: Caprese Salad with Crispy Pancetta and Duck Cracklings, Duck Sugo over Fresh Papparedelle
Dessert: Lemon-Herb Pound Cake with Macerated Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Pastas/Noodles · Poultry

Turkey Bolognese Ragu with Pappardelle

Turkey Bolognese Ragu with Pappardelle


I love a great Bolognese. There’s something about that rich sauce over thick noodles that is just so darn good. Let’s not forget to mention that you can sneak a fair amount of veggies into the sauce from the “trito”—and we all can use a little more veggies in our tummies.

For this Bolognese, I followed a cooking method laid out by Cook’s Illustrated but took my own spin for the ingredients. And before I get scolded, I will wholeheartedly admit that this Bolognese Ragu is far from traditional. I used ground turkey meat as the base of the sauce and substituted the pancetta for spicy Italian sausage. Why Italian sausage? Well, I needed to some fat in the dish since the turkey was so lean…..and I just love the flavor of a good spicy Italian sausage. I’ve also added several herbs and tomato paste—something you don’t find in most traditional Bolognese recipes.

However, the key to any great Bolognese comes down to a low heat and slow cooking time of the sauce. We’re talking at least 3 hours—so it’s definitely a dish you shouldn’t try and whip together. And it’s because of this slow cooking that makes the sauce utterly rich and meaty.

It’s also important to chop the veggies quite fine so that it can break down into the sauce. But you can just throw them into a food processor if you don’t want to fuss with the chopping. As for me, I’m often too lazy to wash my Cuisinart and I find something oddly therapeutic about chopping veggies and practicing my knife skills. 🙂

And best yet– Not only is this Bolognese Ragu so heartily yummy, it also freezes really well—–So be sure to make a double batch next time!


Turkey Bolognese Ragu with Pappardelle

 

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Turkey Bolognese Ragu with Pappardelle
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Pound Ground Turkey
¼ Pound Spicy Italian Sausage
1 Cup White Onion, finely minced
1 Cup Celery, finely minced
1 Cup Carrots, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ Teaspoon Dried Red Chili Flakes (or less depending on your heat preference)
2 Dried Bay Leaves
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 Cup Lowfat Milk
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Pound Pappardelle, cooked
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Saute until softened but not browned. Add chili flakes and sauté for an additional minute. Add turkey, Italian sausage, and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the meat and break into small pieces.  Once the meat is no longer pink, add thyme and bay leaves. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the milk has evaporated and only clear juices remain—about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the wine has evaporated—about 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil, then place the heat at the lowest setting. Continue on this very low simmer for 2 – 2 ½ hours, stirring every 20 minutes until you get a rich, thick meaty sauce. Check for seasonings and add kosher salt and pepper accordingly.

Toss the cooked pappardelle in Bolognese sauce and serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with Italian parsley and Enjoy!

Beef · Pastas/Noodles

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle

The kitchen is a perfectly acceptable place for Do-Overs. You know, a chance to go back and remake/retry a dish.

When I first made Bobby Flay’s Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle, I was quite happy with the results. It was hearty and savory–comforting for the chillier months. There were, however, a few things that I wanted to change the next time I made it. And it was because of this that I called a “Do-Over“!

A few things that I did that I truly believe are a MUST include:

  • Constant skimming of the fat and oil
  • Addition of Red Chili Flakes
  • Shredding of the cooked meat to remove extra fat & gristle
  • Substituting Beef Broth for the Port

This recipe is not difficult to make but it does take time—especially with the extra steps I added (and trust me, those added steps were worth it). But once it’s in the oven for those 3+ hours, your house will be filled with such a lovely aroma that it’ll make you forget how much time you spent browning the ribs and chopping all of the mirepoix. 🙂

And on a random note, does any one else experience challenges when trying to snap photos in poor lighting, when you don’t want to use a flash, and when you need to do it quickly so that the food doesn’t become stone cold? My last few photos have suffered such issues and I debated on even posting the photos. But alas, photos are a better illustration than my words alone so they were included–overly yellow/orange cast and all.  Oh the trials of being a novice photographer…. 🙂

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Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle
Adapted from Bobby Flay
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Pounds Short Ribs, each about 2-inches long, cut flanken style, across the ribs
Salt and freshly Ground Pepper
2 Dried Bay Leaf
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Sprigs Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
4 Small Carrots, diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 Medium Shallots, diced
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Cups Red Wine
½ Head Garlic, cloves separated and peeled
4 Cups Homemade Beef Stock
1 Pound Pappardelle
Chopped Parsley
Grated Pecorino Romano, for garnish

 

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place a 5-quart casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil, and heat until it is almost smoking. Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, add short ribs to the hot oil. Cook ribs until browned on both sides. Remove ribs from casserole, and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare bouquet garni: Place bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and parsley in the center of a square of cheesecloth. Bring edges together, and tie with kitchen string. Set bouquet garni aside.

Add carrots, celery, onion, and shallots to oil in the casserole, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add chili flakes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste to the casserole, and stir to combine. Add ½ cup beef broth; stir with wooden spoon until all browned bits have been scraped from the pan and the bottom of the casserole is clean. Add red wine, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Skim off any grease and discard. Add garlic, remaining beef stock, and the reserved bouquet garni.

Return browned ribs to the casserole. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat. Skim off any grease and discard. Cover the casserole, and place it in the oven. Cook until ribs are very tender, about 3 hours.

Remove the cooked ribs from the casserole. Set the casserole on the stove top over medium heat, and simmer to thicken sauce just slightly. As soon as the short ribs are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, and shred into small pieces. Degrease the sauce and discard the bouquet garni. Return shredded meat to casserole, and simmer to reduce sauce by about half. Check seasonings and add salt/pepper if necessary.

Fill a large pot with water and add a few tablespoons of salt. Set over high heat, and bring to a boil. Salt well, and stir in pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta, and serve with short-rib ragu, sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with freshly grated Percorino Romano .