Hello, Ducks

I bought half a dozen duck eggs in my local deli the other day. Then I sat and looked at them.

Yes, my life is one long dizzy social whirl. Having got them I couldn’t decide how to cook them.

I’d like to have done a simple dish of fresh asparagus and Jersey Royals topped with a poached duck egg, but neither the asparagus nor the spuds were in season yet.

A rummage in my store cupboard revealed a tin of confit duck legs, left over from last time I splurged in a French hypermarket. Duck meat and duck eggs. Perfect.

Image of duck eggs

For some time I have been meaning to make ravioli the easy way, using Chinese wonton skins. That was the plan anyway. Then I looked in the freezer and realised I had none left. Oh. This wasn’t going well.

I know, I thought, I’ll make my own ravioli. How hard can it be? Experienced pasta makers need read no further.

You know when they say all Italian grandmas make their own pasta using a rolling pin and wouldn’t have a pasta machine in the house?  All I can say is that the grannies must have biceps like Geoff Capes.

My first attempt (rolling pin and weedy biceps) was a disaster because I didn’t roll it thin enough. The ravioli were like lead sinkers. I could have sunk a battleship, let alone a fishing line.

So I gave in and bought a pasta machine. The resulting ravioli were a rather peculiar shape and a bit wrinkly but the pasta was as light as a feather and the finished dish was voted a success by my guinea pigs good friends.

If you are new to pasta making you might find this post by Giuliano Hazan (son of Marcella) helpful. Needless to say, I found it after the event.

Confit Duck Ravioli With Poached Duck Eggs, Spinach and a Parmesan Cream (How Posh Is That?)

Image of confit duck ravioli with a duck egg and parmesan cream

Ingredients for the filling:

2 confit duck legs

200g ricotta cheese

20g Parmesan cheese, grated

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta:

300g Tipo “00” flour (or plain flour) plus rice flour or fine semolina for dusting

1/4 tsp salt

3 eggs

1/2 tspn olive oil

For the Parmesan cream:

200ml double cream

40g grated parmesan

To serve:

450g spinach, cooked until wilted in 15g butter

Grated Parmesan and a few basil leaves or sprigs of parsley, to garnish

Method:

To make the filling, wipe all the fat off the duck legs and remove the skin. Mine were an alarming shade of pink but I think that’s because they’re marinaded in salt before being cooked in their own fat. I never said this was a diet recipe.

image of shredded confit duck

Shred the duck meat then mix with enough ricotta to get a good filling consistency – I used about 200g.

Mix in the chopped parsley and grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Set aside in the fridge.

To make the pasta, either put all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz until it comes together.

Or put the flour in a heap on a large wooden board and make a well in the middle. Then break the eggs into the centre and beat them with a fork.

Add the salt and oil to the eggs and mix, drawing the flour into the beaten egg and incorporating it a bit at a time.

Either way, once it has all combined, knead it for around 10 minutes or until it feels elastic and voluptuously silky. Ahem.

Rest it in the fridge, wrapped well in cling film, for at least half an hour.

Image of pasta rolled on a machineThen put it through your pasta machine and roll it out thinly. Thinly, I say!

Put it on a large flat board dusted with rice flour or fine semolina (less easily absorbed by the fresh pasta dough).

Begin cutting it straight away as it dries out really fast.  Wrap any you are not working with in cling film or cover with a clean damp tea towel.

Taking one long piece of rolled pasta put small dollops of filling, about two finger-widths apart, down one side.

Brush the far edge with a little water, then fold the pasta in half lengthways to enclose the fillings, gently pressing out any air.

Using a ravioli stamp or small pastry cutter, press out your ravioli around the filling. You can re-roll any offcuts.

Image of ravioli stamp in use

Dust the ravioli with flour to stop them sticking to each other and lay them on a clean tea towel. Use immediately or freeze in a foil tray dusted with flour and cook from frozen.

To make the Parmesan cream, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over a medium heat then whisk in the Parmesan and some freshly ground black pepper.

Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until reduced to a thick sauce. Keep warm.

Just before you want to eat, put two pans of lightly salted water on to boil. In a third pan, wilt the spinach in the butter and keep warm.

Image of a plate of uncooked ravioli

Put the ravioli in one pan of water and cook in batches for around 3-5 minutes or until they bob to the surface.

In the second pan, poach the ducks’ eggs for about three minutes – don’t overcook as the whites have more protein than hens’ eggs and can become rubbery.

Serve the ravioli on a bed of spinach, with a poached egg on top, drizzled with the Parmesan cream. Garnish with a light dusting of Parmesan and a sprig of basil or parsley. Eat, reminding yourself of how awesome Italian grannies are.

Image of confit duck ravioli with duck egg and parmesan cream

9 thoughts on “Hello, Ducks

  1. Wow, what a masterpiece! Very impressive. I have tried to make ravioli a couple of times; I have a pasta machine but they were still rubbish and leaked out all the filling into the pan. Perhaps I need a cutter too. I love squash ravioli so really must give it another go. I also have a giant tin of duck in the cupboard but think I’ll just shove mine in the oven 😉

    • Don’t blame you! Those little cutters don’t cost much and they do seem to work. Hardly a masterpiece, more cack-handed journeyman status. It all got a bit out of hand!

  2. When I cook ravioli, they know that the estimated dining time and reality are at least a couple of hours apart. Lovely looking dish. I got my cutter in TK Maax btw. Very cheap!

  3. These sound killer delicious. Once in awhile you have to gild the lily and this looks the perfect occasion. When I first saw the duck eggs and the title I wondered if you were going to make duck egg pasta, which I thought would be wonderful, instead you introduced me to a phrase I’m pretty sure I’ve never encountered anywhere, let alone on a food blog: …rolling pin and weedy biceps… Hahahaha! Just great. Ken

    • Thanks Ken. Like I said before, I need some practice on the pasta making but it was fun doing them. And maybe I should make duck egg pasta. I know they’re great in cakes so they ought to work. Maybe next time. I should probably put in some work on the biceps and bingo wings too. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Herby Ravioli With Pangrattato | Mrs Portly's Kitchen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s