Sunday, March 23, 2008

Duck Cacciatore

We were having guests over for Easter and they liked Nana's chicken cacciatore so well, I got a kiss the first time I served it to them! Well, let's see how I fare with my own duck version. I'm always nervous about trying out an experiment on friends, but when they're good friends, they'll always be receptive. The cacciatore was served alongside my duck ragu recipe over Pacheri pasta. You can never have too much duck!

4 duck legs
1 duck breast
1 large yellow onion
6 large cloves of garlic
6 sprigs of thyme (4" sprigs)
1 sprig of rosemary (3" young sprig)
12 small or 4 large sage leaves
16 sprigs of parsley
1 lb. small brown mushrooms
2 oz. dry porcini mushrooms
1C hot water
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
2C water if crushed tomatoes are thick
1 14 1/2 oz. can of green olives
extra virgin olive oil


Place the dried porcini in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Score the fat and brown the duck over medium heat to render the fat, then remove the duck and place on a plate. Remove the fat from the pan and saute the diced onion in the pan using a small amount of olive oil. Mince the garlic and thyme and add to the saute pan, mixing it with the onions, then after sauteing a few minutes, add the fresh mushrooms.

If the mushrooms are not very small, slice them in half or quarters. Saute the mushrooms and then add minced parsley, sage, and rosemary for more sauteing.

When you can smell the fragrance of the herbs, it's time to add the crushed tomatoes. I used Italia brand and it was much thicker than I had expected, so I added about half a can or almost 2 cups of water to thin it down, since this is a braised dish that requires long cooking. After the sauce goes in, reintroduce the duck meat and make certain that is is covered by the sauce. Add the drained olives, either green or black will be fine, and add the porcini at this time. Reserve the water the porcini have soaked in and strain it into the pot for extra porcini flavor. Cook over medium heat uncovered until the sauce thickens a bit, then partially cover and simmer until the duck flesh is tender.

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