Last week Ed was invited to a cookbook launch party for Gwyneth Paltrow's My Father's Daughter. In attendance were none other than Jay-Z, Jerry Seinfeld, and Alex Rodriguez of New York Yankees fame. Great set of friends, right? When asked about the food, though, Ed mentioned that the Duck Ragu was quite good, which made me want to investigate this recipe for myself.
In the intro Paltrow explains that this recipe came from a particularly memorable birthday gift, a cooking lesson from Jamie Oliver and that it's her favorite recipe in the book—can you blame her? And it's a really fantastic sauce, rich and meaty with the kind of slow simmered flavors that a ragu should possess. But you should probably know that this is one pricey pasta topper; duck and duck bacon do not come cheap.
Instead of braising the duck in the sauce it's roasted in the oven and added to a slowly cooked tomato sauce enriched with duck bacon and a caramelized mirepoix of carrots, onions, and celery as well as a good bit of rosemary and a cup of red wine. Once the duck is cooked and cooled, it's shredded, added to the sauce, and simmered for an additional hour or more.
The sauce itself is awesome, good enough to make you rethink your love of Bolognese. But getting back to the cost factor, in the end this recipe made enough ragu for several meals and leaves you with nearly a cup of rendered duck fat and a carcass ready to make a big batch of duck stock. Whether or not Paltrow eeks out every last bit of duck from this recipe is anyone's guess but for the rest of us it's not a bad deal.
Adapted from My Father's Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow. Copyright © 2011. Published by Grand Central Life & Style. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
- For the ragu:
- 1 organic large duck, washed and dried
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices duck bacon, finely diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 2 medium stalks celery, finely diced
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 5-inch sprigs fresh rosemary, stems discarded and leaves finely minced
- 3 14-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
- 1 cup Italian red wine
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- For serving:
- 1 pound pappardelle (fresh or dried)
- Gremolata Bread Crumbs (recipe follows) or freshly grated Parmesan cheese,
- For the Gremolata Bread Crumbs:
- 2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs, toasted and coarsely ground
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- Small pinch of coarse salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Trim off excess skin from the opening to the duck’s cavity and from the back end. Rub the entire duck with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, inside and out. Roast it for a total of 2 hours, flipping it from its back to its breast (and vice versa) every 1/2 hour. Let it cool in the pan until you can handle it. Drain off the fat and either discard or reserve it for another use, such as roasting potatoes.
While the duck is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the duck bacon. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until starting to crisp. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and rosemary, turn the heat down to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomatoes and their juice and put 1/2 cup water into one can, swish it around to get all the tomato stuck to the sides, pour into the next can, and repeat again with the third. Add the tomato water to the Dutch oven along with the wine, a good grind of pepper, and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down very low and let simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
After the duck has cooled down a bit, remove and discard the skin and bones and shred the meat. Fold the duck meat into the ragu along with the tomato paste and cook on very low heat, uncovered, for at least 1 hour and up to 4, adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from drying out (continue to season with salt and pepper as you splash).
To serve, cook the pasta, divide it among bowls, and spoon a generous amount of duck ragu over the pasta. Top with the Gremolata Bread Crumbs or Parmesan.
To make the Gremolata Bread Crumbs: Toss everything together.