This recipe is my interpretation of Jamie Oliver’s Duck Ragu, with a little Local Girl twist! You can find his recipe at http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/duck-recipes/duck-rag-homemade-pici-pasta/
Like my friend Jamie, I also look to the Godfather of cuisines for inspiration – Italian. I fly out next May to greet my Grandfather’s family in a little town called Rossano. It’s been 10 years since I was last there, and each year that passes, I become more and more eager to return. I can’t wait to eat, drink and be with my famiglia. Venice is a one-hour train ride away, and where I’ve enrolled in Italian language classes. It’s also where Jamie (my friend!) filmed “Tastes of Italy”, and cooked the classic Venetian dish – risotto.
It just so happens I have another friend - Nigella - the Domestic Goddess - who hung out in Florence, and coincidently, is where I will continue to learn Italian, and be inspired by the tastes of Italy. Nigella says that it was in Florence, aged 19, that she first fell in love with food. I can picture her now, long brown hair, fresh faced, sitting in a café enjoying a cappuccino and biscotti, unaware of her successful career that was about to unfold.
“There’s nothing more romantic than Italian food”
1 whole duck
3 medium red onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 stick celery, finely sliced
1 medium carrot, finely sliced
450ml good quality Sangiovese red wine
2x 400ml tins diced tomatoes
100g golden raisins
2 fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed
1x 500g-packet fusilli pasta
1 thick slice stale ciabatta (or quality bread)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Grated Parmesan cheese to serve
Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan-forced and line a medium sized roasting tray with baking paper. Wash the duck, inside and out, then pat it dry with kitchen paper. Rub olive oil all over the duck then season with salt and pepper. Place in the prepared roasting tray and cook the duck for around 2 hours, or until golden, crisp and cooked through.
Once cooked, remove the duck to a board. Pour remaining fat into a glass cup and set aside. Bring a large, wide heavy-based saucepan to a medium-low heat. Add a splash of oil and two tbsp. of the reserved duck fat, once heated add garlic, onion, celery, carrot and gently cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until softened and lightly browned.
Remove the duck skin and set aside for later use. Shred the meat off the bones, making sure to get EVERYTHING. Use rubber gloves to avoid burns.
Pour the Sangiovese into the pan and allow to reduce, this will take 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the shredded duck meat, diced tomatoes and two tins worth of water also. Now stir in the raisins, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until thickened and reduced.
Meanwhile, blitz the pangritata ingredients and reserved duck skin in a food processor until fine. Heat a fry pan to a high heat and add a small splash of olive oil. Transfer pangritata to the fry pan and fry for 5 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Tip into in a small serving bowl.
Cook the pasta according to the packets instructions. Strain the pasta into a colander and reserve 1 mug of the cooking water. Add enough of the duck ragu to coat the pasta, toss until well coated and serve with the pangritata and grated Parmesan.