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Orecchiette with Spiced Duck Ragù

Orecchiette with Spiced Duck Ragù

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  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 breast halves and 2 leg-thigh pieces from one 4 1/2-pound duck, skinned; or 2 pounds chicken thighs with bones, skinned
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes or canned tomato puree (from two 28-ounce cans)
  • 12 ounces orecchiette (little ear-shaped pasta)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped arugula
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup 1/4-inch-dice feta cheese

Recipe Preparation

  • Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle duck with salt and pepper. Add duck to pot and sauté until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer duck to plate. Add basil, garlic, thyme, cinnamon stick, and crushed red pepper to pot; sauté 3 minutes. Return duck to pot. Add tomatoes; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until duck is tender, about 1 hour. Remove cinnamon stick. Transfer duck to work surface. Cut all meat from bones; cut meat into strips. Return meat to pot. Season duck ragù to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.

  • Cook orecchiette in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta. Return to pot. Add duck ragù, arugula, and Parmesan; toss to blend. Divide pasta among small bowls. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Recipe by Gerry Hayden of Amuse in New York,Reviews Section

Quick Tomato Ragu Pasta Sauce

This sauce is a paired down, simplified version of the classic and requires less simmering. Yet all things are relative, it is "quick" by comparison—it's ready in less than an hour. Use it on a substantial pasta shape such as penne.

For more of a deep tomato flavor, add a tablespoon or more of tomato paste (if you have Homemade Tomato Paste in the house, all the better!). If what you have on hand is fresh tomatoes, not jarred or canned, may I suggest you try this Fresh Tomato Sauce instead? It's designed to capture that wonderful fresh tomato flavor.

Some people would say that this sauce is best made with ground veal. They may be right, but it works just fine with ground pork, ground beef, or even ground turkey. Some people would also say the sauce needs a splash of red wine vinegar or a tablespoon of sugar, and they may be right about that, too, since these things are all a matter of taste. Season this sauce as you like it! (Full disclosure: at my house, we tend to add a generous pinch of red pepper flakes in with the onion for a sauce with a bit of a kick. Feel free to follow our fine example.)

Ribbon pasta (Fettuccine) (page 155)

From The Ultimate Pasta and Noodle Cookbook The Ultimate Pasta and Noodle Cookbook by Serena Cosmo

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  • Categories: Pasta, doughs & sauces Italian Vegetarian
  • Ingredients: all-purpose flour eggs semolina flour
  • Accompaniments:Asparagus and ricotta sauce Creamy leek sauce Meat ragù with Béchamel sauce

Lunch at Del Posto

So you’ve probably already heard how the new cool thing to do is to eat at a restaurant and then wait a month before telling everyone about it, right? Oh wait, no? Yea, so listen. Apparently I forgot to tell you about my amazing birthday lunch at Del Posto way back at the very end of July. Oops.

Asheley and I love to celebrate our birthdays with a fancy schmancy dinner. You may remember back to Asheley’s birthday when we splurged big time on a meal at Eleven Madison Park. And you’re probably thinking, wait, why didn’t you go to dinner at Del Posto? Why lunch?! Well, because 1) on the night of my actual birthday we were invited to the NY Botanical Gardens for an event called Family Dinner with Mario Batali’s Chefs and 2) I’m going to let you in on a little not-so-secret about the amazing lunch deal at Del Posto…

So check this place out. It’s beautiful. Top notch. It’s celebrity chef Mario Batali’s most upscale restaurant, and is the proud owner of a Michelin Star. Marble and wrought iron everywhere. A live pianist at the baby grand piano does his thing round the clock. Ladies: your purses get their own little chair so it doesn’t have to go on the floor. And there’s an army of servers waiting to give you an unforgettable dining experience.

Now, if you’re planning on going for dinner, like Asheley and I did to celebrate her 30th birthday waaaaaay back when, you better be ready to drop some cash. A lot of cash. But don’t get me wrong. It’s totally worth it in my eyes. But, are you ready for this (you may want to sit down), coming for lunch during the week is only $39 a person. Yea, I know. It’s a crazy ridiculous good deal. A Del Posto meal at a fraction of the price.

Some complimentary amuse bouches will be brought over to your table at the beginning of the meal. They’ll change daily, but it’s a safe bet that you will get one soup-based item, a light and delicate bite, and one rich, assertive taste.

We had a great little cold marinara soup with an olive oil “floater” and dehydrated parsley, a lightly pickled cucumber sandwich with an avocado mousse filling, and this puffed corn rigatoni that was coated with smoky chile powder and lime and then filled with lobster salad. Not a bad way to start off a meal, huh?

From there, you get to choose your three courses. A starter, then a pasta or meat, and dessert. Here’s where it gets tricky though. You can get a pasta course and a meat course for $10 extra. I highly recommend that. I demand it. You’re at Del Posto. What’s an extra $10 for a whole extra course.

Asheley started with the Insalata Estiva della Terra, which is basically a explosive celebration of in season produce. Most of the vegetables are raw, and some were just lightly kissed with some sort of cooking process. I know what you’re thinking and no, it’s not just a bunch of vegetables thrown on a plate. This is one of those simple looking dishes that is pretty tough to pull off, because every element has to be perfect. And it was.

I started with the Areated Stracciatella, which has tomatoes, anchovies, basil, and this fluffy, creamy mozzarella. It’s pretty hard to explain, but it was freaking delicious.

This may be… no, it probably is…. no, it definitely is the best bread basket in NYC right now. And it’s not just me saying it. The bread basket at Del Posto, all made in house by James Beard winning Pastry Chef Brooks Headley, is wildly famous. Along with that bread, by the way, is some crazy good butter and whipped lardo (that’s right, pork fat), which is ridiculously great.

I’m warning you right now, it’s going to be very hard to not fill up on bread. Once you finish the basket (and you will finish the basket), your server will immediately ask you if you would like more. And I know you would, but you have to say no, because there’s three more courses coming.

Asheley and I both got the same pasta course, because well, it’s amazing. The Handmade Orecchiette with Lamb Neck Ragù, Orange Carrots, and Toasted Rye Crumbs is hands down one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. Like, if I fell in a vat of this pasta and drowned, I would die a very happy man.

Asheley went for the Apician Spiced Duck Breast with Braised Endive, Hazelnuts, and Sour Cherries. I don’t think I need to tell you how amazing it was, do I? Look at how beautifully that duck is cooked. Just look at it!

I went with the Heritage Pork Trio with Ribollita alla Casella. So we have a pork loin wrapped in pancetta and then topped with a pork sausage. Pork, on pork, on pork. Enough said.

Yup, that’s right. Be jealous. I got a candle with my dessert. And that’s a unbelievably creamy Butterscotch Semifreddo with Melon Agrumata and Crumbled Sbrisolona.

Although I totally love that Butterscotch Semifreddo, I actually think the Nectarine Arrosto with Grilled Lemon Cake and Basil Gelato edged it out in the holy cow that’s incredible award category. I only got one bite because Asheley was ALL over this dessert.

And before you leave, of course they’ll bring over their signature old-school box grater filled with some complimentary little mignardises. From the bottom, there was some sort of dehydrated fruit, a free form truffle, bomboloni (i.e. doughnuts!), and olive oil gelato pops.

So let’s recap, shall we. A Michelin-starred restaurant. 3 amuse bouches. Starter. Pasta. Meat. Dessert. 4 mignardises. $49.

Oh, and I totally forgot one of the coolest parts of this meal! Asheley has an old friend from awhile back that she lost touch with and really isn’t close with BUT is the sous chef at Del Posto, Chef Matt Abdoo. At the end of our meal, we asked by chance if he was working that day and to make a long story short, he invited us to take a tour of the kitchen. And people, this kitchen is pretty much the dream kitchen of any chef in NYC. It’s huge. H-U-G-E.

Recipe Summary

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 pound boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • One 28-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices reserved
  • 1 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the carrots, onion and red bell pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a plate.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the casserole. Add the pancetta and stir once or twice over moderately high heat until sizzling. Add the lamb and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the meat is browned, 10 minutes. Return the vegetables to the casserole. Add the red wine and simmer until evaporated, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the casserole. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the chicken stock, bay leaf and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is very tender, 1 1/2 hours. Discard the bay leaf.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the rigatoni until al dente. Drain the rigatoni and toss with half of the lamb ragù. Serve the pasta in large bowls, passing the remaining lamb ragù and the Pecorino cheese at the table.

Recipe Options

You can serve this delicious lamb ragu with any kind of pasta you like (just as you would Lamb Meatballs).

I’m partial to pappardelle or tagliatelle, but short pasta like rigatoni would also be delicious. (I love to make my own with this quick and easy pasta dough made in the food processor.) It’s also wonderful over rice. I top it in a variety of ways: a sprinkle of sheep’s milk feta, a dollop of ricotta, or shaved Pecorino Romano or parmesan and slivers of fresh basil or mint. If you like a spicy ragu, red pepper flakes add a flavorful heat.

Italian meat recipes

The beauty of cooking meat in Italy is in its variety. The country is famous for its cured meats – prosciutto, pancetta, coppa and bresaola, just to name a few – but Italians are happy to eat meat and game in almost any way, shape or form (apart from chicken with pasta – that tends to be a big no-no).

Similarly, meat eating in Italy can range from rustic to avant garde, and anything in between. Matteo Metiullo's Seared venison, pistachio purée, lemon honey and wasabi rice chips is a great example of how Italian chefs are pushing the boundaries of their cuisine, as is Norbert Niederkofler's Trio of lamb with nettle purée, cherry gel and salsify crisps. Meanwhile, Alessandro Gavagna's Roasted veal shin with potatoes is equally delicious, and is as simple and unfussy as you can get. Check out this Vitello tonnato recipe from Luca Marchiori, too – a classic Piedmontese veal dish.

There's a huge range of recipes in our collection of Italian meat recipes, so there's bound to be something that takes your fancy. Scroll through the recipes below and find something delicious for tonight's dinner.

Jono & Jules do food & wine

We just love recipes like these – tastes just like holidays in Italy. So simple but truly delicious.

Wine Suggestion: A favourite: the Sartarelli Verdicchio Classico Superiore “Tralivio”, was a great match for this combining freshness and vitality with a roundness, texture, saltiness and enough body to work with some of the strong components of this dish.

Orecchiette with clams & broccoli – serves 4

  • 1kg clams, washed
  • 300g broccoli
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 fresh hot red chilli, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 crumbled dried hot chilli or 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 150ml white wine
  • 300g orecchiette

Cut the florets from the broccoli head and discard the stalks. Cut each floret in half lengthwise.

Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water until very tender, then drain.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy frying pan. Add half the garlic and fry until soft, then add the anchovies and dried chilli, Stir to melt the anchovies. Add the broccoli and cook for 10 minutes or until it is soft enough to break up into a sauce.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan. Add the fresh chilli, the rest of the garlic, and the parsley. Fry until just coloured. Add the clams and wine, then cover and cook over a high heat until the clams have opened, about 3 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid.

Remove the clams from their shells and add them to the broccoli sauce with some of their cooking water to thin the sauce a bit.

Cook the orecchiette in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce, adding some more liquid as needed.

Serve with your best olive oil.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)