So tonight for dinner I embraced techniques, inspiration and bad weather. Technique was making gnocchi which is actually quite fun. Inspiration came from the recent issue of Food and Wine magazine, October issue. Bad weather? Yep, when it’s cold, raining and blustery out I can’t do yard work or get in my garden so I head straight for the kitchen.
And what did I reach for you might ask? What type of dish says “I know it’s cold and raining, but I shall make you warm, I shall make you smile softly and say ‘I am glad I stayed in because I have you on my plate’?” Duck. That glorious meat that is delectable, always consistent in color and taste, and needs very few embellishments to be a dish of exceptional flavor.
Side dishes – homemade gnocchi and roasted carrots. The last of my carrots for the season I might add. (I have made a note to grow many more and at least 4 varieties)
So I buy whole ducks as just buying duck breasts can be very expensive. I fabricate the duck into 2 breasts, 2 legs and 2 thighs. The wings and carcass were used to make a batch of duck stock. Tonight I only needed the breasts so the legs and thighs will be grilled tomorrow.
Here’s where it might get a bit odd for someone not familiar with cooking duck. Duck Fat. It is liquid gold!! I cut all the extra skin and fat from the carcass and render it down and usually end up with about 1/2 a cup of this wonderful fat. If you have never had potatoes fried in duck fat you are missing out. OMG it is phenomenal! Ok back to my post…
Pan searing duck breasts is very easy. You season your duck with what ever spices you wish to use (recipe links below) and score thru the flesh, but not the meat. This will allow the fat to cook out so your meat is basted in goodness.
Gnocchi, which is an Italian dumpling, is made with potatoes. (who doesn’t love potatoes?!) Rolling the gnocchi out on a gnocchi paddle is very easy. If you don’t have a paddle you can use a fork!
Place the cut gnocchi with the cut edges to the sides. I’ve found rolling it the other direction makes it more difficult to get the right shape. Gently push the gnocchi forward, it will start to curl. Remember to keep your pressure light.
Once it’s all rolled out let it chill about an hour. This will firm it up. Matter of fact I put mine in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and then the freezer. This will help remove a bit more moisture so they won’t gum up.
They sure don’t take long to cook. Place into a pot of boiling water. They will sink but soon will start to float. Cook them in batches if you are doing a lot. Let them cook about 3 minutes after they start floating. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl. If you’re using a sauce now is the time to gently toss. Options include brown butter and sage, marinara or for me mushroom ragu. Matter of fact if you are doing gnocchi do a full recipe and freeze the rest for another day.
I cooked 3 different types of mushrooms for my ragu. You can use whatever types you like best. For me it was cremini, shitake and chanterelle’s.
Once you have all of the components you have a dinner that is luscious.
For the duck and carrots I used this recipe. Being as it’s only hubby and myself, I cut the recipe in half.
And here is the gnocchi and mushroom ragu recipe. Again I cut the recipe in half, but I think next time I’ll make a full serving of the mushroom ragu because the leftovers would be fabulous to play with! Matter of fact with the bit of duck and gnocchi we had left I plan on making a duck and gnocchi frittata for breakfast 🙂