Monday, June 6, 2011


As I have previously mentioned, one real benefit of buying a whole duck is how much more you get out of it.  Even a couple months after having eaten the majority of the duck, the bits that I had preserved were still tasty.  The cured duck breast was still tasty on its own, but I ran into trouble at the ends where my admittedly mediocre knife skills prevented me from safely slicing thinly.  Not wanting to let any go to waste, I tried to think of ways to utilize these bits.  While I initially thought it best to think of dishes that traditionally involve prosciutto, I quickly decided that it was not too inappropriate to consider what I had to be approximate to guanciale.

With guanciale in mind, I thought to use my leftover cured duck in a sauce over pasta to make the most of it.  Lacking good tomatoes, canned or fresh, I ruled out amatriciana, which left me with carbonara.  I have had rather mixed results with carbonara in the past, often failing to capture the right texture to the sauce that I want.  Nevertheless, I forged ahead, dicing the cured duck, as well as a quarter of an onion, which I know is not traditionally correct for carbonara, forgive me.  I crisped the duck in a bit of oil and duck fat, saved from the confit, and then browned the onion.  After, the fettuccine reached al dente, I drained, then added a bit of the water to the browned onions.  I tossed the pasta in a mixture of whisked eggs and finely grated parmesan to coat before pouring it into the slightly simmering onions, stirring briskly.  Seasoned with fresh black pepper, topped with the crisped duck and served alongside roasted asparagus. Happily, the consistency of the sauce was quite creamy and without lumps.  Moreover, the duck, despite being little in quantity, was quite present in the dish, a delicious success if I may say.

Pasta alla carbonara con asparagi arrosto

In addition to the cured duck breasts, I had also preserved some of the duck by way of making confit of the legs.  When refrigerated in the fat used to confit, the duck stays quite well preserved for months.  I had been saving the confit legs for cassoulet, but that failed to materialize despite the ridiculously long winter.  Instead, I decided to pan fry the confit legs for dinner one day in some of the duck fat to heat it through and to give it a wonderful crispy skin, frying up some sliced potatoes in the same skillet as well.  Served alongside is some quickly blanched shaved asparagus.

Confit de canard poêlé, pommes de terre à la sarladaise, rubans d'asperges

 As you may have also noticed, I have been eating a lot of asparagus.  It is definitely one of my favorite spring vegetables after months of eating a lot of winter greens.  This is especially true this year since I have been so depressingly unable to get my hands on any fiddleheads or ramps.  At least the asparagus is still delicious!

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