Roast Duck Ragu with Polenta

duck and polentaI had a friend over for dinner. It was sort of a long overdue dinner offering that happened to also coincide with me finishing a bunch of DIY in my mini kitchen. It was a delicious little feast, and for the first time in ages, I cooked meat. So here it is, the first official meaty post in my nascent food blog.

The tomato sauce base of this has already been posted so you’ll want to make a batch of that tasty goodness. This will feed two.

Duck Ragu Ingredients:
150 g cherry tomatoes - halved
Flaky sea salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
2 good sized duck legs
750 ml tomato sauce
Handful of good black olives - stoned
Small handful of chopped parsley to serve

Oven to 180°C. On a lined baking tray: season your halved cherry tomatoes, splash ’em a bit with some olive oil and roast them for about half an hour until they blister and practically collapse. Remove and set aside.

Now get your oven to 240°C. Take your duck legs and season them with some salt and pepper. Roast them on until the skin is lovely and crispy (10-15 mins, maybe). When all crispy, lower that oven’s temperature to 200°C and roast these bad boys for about an hour until they’re tender. When done, set them aside and save the cooking juices and meat drippings for later.

When the duck is cool enough to handle. Remove the skin (and eat it! Haha, that’s what we did) and pick off the meat. Roughly chop the larger bits so you get nice sized bits of meat. Set aside.

Get a large pot on the stove and at medium heat, now heat up your tomato sauce. Add olives, some black pepper and all the dripping and cooking juices from the duck. Bring the sauce to a simmer for 30 minutes or thereabouts until it is very thick. Ragu gloopy thick. Add the duck legs and cook this for a further 10 minutes. Just before you’re about to serve your ragu, stir in the roasted tomatoes and toss in some chopped parsley.

I served this with soft polenta. I am always making up my polenta to taste and by eye. But this is kinda what you need:

Soft Polenta Ingredients:
Water
Polenta flour
Some sort of cheese - I went parmesan
Salt & Pepper
Unsalted butter

In a heavy bottomed pan, get some water to a boil. You’ll want to think of proportions of food to serving amounts I suppose. So a cup and a half of water per person. Get a whisk and vigorously whisk that water in one direction only, this stops the polenta from getting lumpy. Now carefully add your polenta flour a handful at a time while whisking. This stuff cooks and expands fast, and before you know it, you’re polenta’s too thick and you’ll need to add more water and end up with way too much polenta (which isn’t a bad thing, pour leftovers into trays and griddle the firmer polenta cakes the next day…I bloody love polenta)…anyway, one handful at a time. When it’s at the consistency that you like, add a load of cheese in to taste and season. Serve up with a blob of unsalted butter.

I also served the ragu with a side of griddled asparagus. You really don’t need to do much with these. Bend and snap off the chewy parts of the asparagus spears. Hot griddle pan. Splash of olive oil. Griddle them. Serve with sea salt and freshly squeezed lemon. You can serve these with shavings of parmesan as well, but with all the cheese in the polenta, I didn’t want to over parmesan the dishes out.

grilled asparagus

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