I’ve made duck pasta twice and it is definitely one of my favorite pastas.
I usually write my recipes not too specific but with general guidelines, because everyone has a different salt tolerance or taste or spiciness tolerance, so I give general frameworks to work within in order to be adjusted. The basic of this recipe is to
1) break down the duck
2) Roast the duck Create a duck stock that will be added back into the roasted duck, to further highlight the “duckiness” of the duck
3) Roast the duck
4) make the pasta
5) make the ragu
6) eat and drink burgundy or chianti
1) Break down the duck in the back by the neck there is a wishbone. If you cut along the top of the wishbone and remove it, you will be able to cut along the backbone and the breast that you remove will be larger.
make two wishes (from two ducks)
2)Roast the duck: Preheat the oven to 450F so you can roast the duck (all the parts except for the breast). season the legs, thighs, back, and some of the fat, careful to separate the fat from the meat. Place a small amount of sage and garlic in the pan and as the fat renders, baste the meat with this rendered fat. This will add flavor to the meat. When you have a nice crust on the outside skin, cut the heat to 350F. When it’s nice pushing beyond golden brown and the skin is crispy, take the wings out as they will undoubtedly finish before the thighs and legs. When the back has a nice deep brown color, put this in a stockpot and proceed to #3. When all pieces are done, take out.
3) Make a Duck stock: #2 and 3 overlap, but the basics of my duck stock include carrots, celery, onion, and leek, along with bay leaf, black peppercorns and thyme. I extract flavor from the bones with a mixture of 50% sauvignon blanc (not too acidic) and a pinot noir (pinot and duck are the peanut butters to the jellies), probably something along the same lines of what you will drink later with the meal. Then when the alcohol has reduced by ~ 50% add water to cover and simmer slowly. season more toward the end. I use a china cap and a chinois, in that order, to strain the duck stock and if you are going for more clarity (not really necessary since this is rustic), then strain again through the chinois and pass it a few times.
4) Make the Pasta: I love spinach and duck. whether it’s spinach and roast duck and balsamic or spinach salad with beets and duck breast served cold. I was making a double portion (it holds well in the fridge) so I roasted two ducks, so I used a double portion of pasta: 3 cups 00 caputo flour, 6 egg yolks, 2 egg whites, 1 cup of sauteed spinach (sauteed in garlic and a touch of salt – then drained and chopped coarsely), then a touch of olive oil and milk for texture. But the latter two aren’t totally necessary. I roll it by hand and then in a stand mixer for 10 minutes, It should be silky but not too wet. You may go +/- with the oil or egg whites and +/- with the flour. I don’t like to release too much gluten and prefer my fresh pasta without so much bite, so I only mix for ~ 10 minutes. If you want a chewier pasta, mix longer to release more gluten. I rest this pasta for 1 hour.
5) make the ragu. The ragu requires you to take the meat off the duck. use a deba or cleaver or, if you’re morimoto, two cleavers and dice it up. Taste it and season it with kosher salt and pepper, but remember you’re going to season it again later with parmigiana reggiano, which is salty. And duck stock, which you will reduce, which will also have salt. After you have your duck chopped up, set aside in a bowl and start heating a large brazier or large sauce pan that can accommodate two ducks. slice some grape tomatoes in half and chopped garlic and pepper and use lots of oil to start the garlic and pepper. When they’re turning color add the tomatoes and go until they’re slightly wilting but don’t go too long otherwise you’ll release too much of the tomato acids. Add the duck and some duck stock and, if necessary some more wine. I add a bit of parsley in with the garlic/pepper / redpepper mixture up front, but you can add later as well.
6) have your pasta going in another large pot. If you don’t have enough water it will stick to each other (don’t need oil, just lots of salted water). toss it all together remembering the basics of cooking pasta: cook it ~ 70% in the pot and 30% in the saucepan allowing the pasta to cook in the duck stock and soak up all that flavor. Time it so there’s not a puddle of sauce on the bottom but the starch from some of the pasta cooking water helps bind the sauce to the pasta so it has the maximum flavor per bite!!!
7) eat and drink burgundy/Pinot Noir or Chianti which is a natural pairing for tomatoes. Shave parm and drizzle some good olive oil on top. There should be an undercurrent of heat from the redpeppers, the silky smooth pasta, the tender but with a slight chewiness to the diced duck, and crispiness of the duck skin that you incorporated.