Makes 4 to 6 servings
This recipe is a favorite of our students in our Cuisines of the Mediterranean class at The Culinary Institute of America. The main ingredient in the dish is the gnocchi, served with a perfectly made duck ragoût to accent those fluffy little pillows.
- 2 medium russet potatoes
- 2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 4 large eggs
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 gallons water
- 5 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 6 juniper berries, crushed
- 2 black peppercorns, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 duck legs, cut into drumstick and thigh pieces
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pancetta
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 3 cups brown veal or beef stock
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- To make the gnocchi: Bake the potatoes until soft, about 1 hour. Peel and, while still hot, purée through the large holes of a food mill. Spread out the purée on a plastic wrap–lined sheet pan and cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooled potato purée with the flour, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Dust a work surface with bread flour so that the dough will not stick. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead quickly, adding more flour, if necessary, to achieve a pliable dough.
- Using a bench scraper, cut the dough into 5 portions. Roll each portion into a log roughly 3/4-inch in diameter. Using the bench scraper, cut the log into 1/2-inch pieces. Run each gnocchi piece along a gnocchi board or the back of a fork to create a seam, or press your thumb into the piece to create a pillow. Place the gnocchi on a parchment paper–lined sheet pan that has been lightly floured. Cover the gnocchi with plastic wrap and store the gnocchi in the refrigerator or freezer until the ragoût is done.
- To make the ragoût: Combine the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, juniper berries, and peppercorns and wrap in cheesecloth to make a sachet.
- In a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot or rondeau, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the duck legs and the pancetta and brown slowly, rendering the excess fat. Once the duck legs have browned, gradually increase the heat to medium-high. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and sauté until browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it turns a rusty color and smells sweet, 3 to 4 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and brandy. Reduce the liquid by half, then add the broth and sachet; the broth should cover the meat by 1 inch. Taste the liquid and season with salt and pepper.
- Braise the duck and vegetables in the oven, keeping the liquid at a slow simmer, for 1 hour or until the duck meat is fork-tender. Cool and skim the fat; it will rise to the top and turn bright orange, making it easy to skim.
- Remove the duck legs from the braising liquid and shred the meat. Return the meat to the ragoût and reduce over medium-high heat until it lightly coats the back of a spoon.
- Bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the gnocchi to the water, cooking in batches, if necessary, to avoid overcrowding the pot. Cook the gnocchi until they float to the surface, then remove with a skimmer and transfer to a colander to drain.
- Stir the butter into the sauce in the pot. Combine the gnocchi with the sauce in the pot and reheat. To serve, the sauce should be just thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Serve topped with the cheese and parsley.