Just because we’re in quarantine, doesn’t mean you can’t make fabulous food. I know groceries are a little harder to come by, but lately I think ingredients are quite plentiful and we should all take advantage of this time in our lives, when we can actually focus on preparing a great meal. Duck is something many of us have never prepared at home in our own kitchens. It’s not that duck is a difficult thing to make, it just looks and sounds a little intimidating for some. Duck breasts, which come with a layer of fat on top, are tender and juicy after cooking, and most of the oil renders from the meat, so it doesn’t taste fatty.
Duck breasts when slow-cooked, become fork-tender and the meat shreds with ease. I think duck breasts make a great Ragu or meat sauce, because of their silky texture and how it clings to warm pasta, when served. Mushrooms and duck are a match made in heaven because they both have a bit of earthiness to them, but in different ways. Some may think duck is gamy, but it’s not – it’s full flavored and tastes like a darker meat chicken, and mushrooms give off flavors of the woods. This combination is hardy and rustic, something I think most will enjoy.
You can buy duck breasts online or at finer grocery stores. They aren’t as expensive as you’d think and this batch of Ragu feeds a crowd, and can be eaten several times during the week, or transformed into another meal. Do you sense another leftovers recipe coming, most likely.
4 duck half breasts, Magret, Pekin or any variety
1 pound mushrooms, Button, Crimini, or Baby Bella – sliced
1 small white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
14 ounces diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 sprigs fresh oregano or thyme
salt & pepper
oil for cooking
cooked pasta, polenta, or rice
Parmesan for sprinkling
- Using a sharp knife, score duck breasts into a cross-hatch pattern (do not cut all the way through to meat.) Sprinkle breasts with salt and pepper.
- In a slow cooker insert or large pan, add duck breasts skin-side-down and place over medium high heat. Cook until fat renders from breasts and they become dark golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove duck from insert and drain all, but 1 tablespoon fat into a bowl. Reserve fat for another use – duck fat potatoes, pie dough, or use as a cooking oil.
- Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic to pot and place over medium heat. Cook for 4 minutes, then add tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, red pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons salt, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Place duck breasts back into pot and place into slow-cooker. Top with fresh oregano and cook for 5 hours on low heat. Remove oregano stems and shred duck meat with spoon, while stirring to combine. Ladle sauce over hot pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan. Enjoy!