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>

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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