For Xmas Howard got me an item from my much neglected Amazon.com wishlist, a cavatelli maker. It’s made by CucinaPro and works like a charm once you get the dough the right consistency, which is stiff, but not dry. I’ve made three batches of 100% semolina cavatelli since Christmas. They have a nice firm “bite” as they say. The cavatelli maker came with a sheet of recipes, all of which use all purpose(AP) flour. For this recipe I decided to try one of them. They turned out lighter, and really lovely with the Duck Ragu.
The ragu is adapted from Mario Batali. I only employ a couple of small changes, but both are meant to increase the umami flavor. I add in some dried, reconstituted porcini mushrooms and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Mushrooms and anchovies both add to umami and depth of flavor. I also cook this sauce a bit longer than Mario, melding the flavors more.
AP Flour Cavatelli (serves 4)
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hot water
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Knead everything together until you get a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes or more.
Roll the dough out to about 3/8 inch in thickness. Cut into 1/2 – 3/4 inch strips. Feed through your Cavatelli Maker. Or do a Google search on how to hand roll them. Put them on a well floured sheet pan to dry out a little before using.
Duck Ragu (serves 4)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large or 4 small skinned duck legs
salt & pepper
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly slice
4 fresh sage leaves
2 cups red wine
2 cups duck (or chicken) stock
one 6 oz can of tomato paste
Heat one cup of the stock to at least very hot and add the dried mushrooms. Soak for 10 minutes or so. Remove the mushrooms and chop. Let soaking liquid settle.
Salt and pepper the duck. Heat the oil in a dutch oven until hot and brown the duck legs on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the onion, carrot, garlic, celery and sage to the pot. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the vegetables are soft. Add chopped mushrooms, wine, stock, tomato paste and the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, avoiding the last bit of mushroom liquid that is most likely sandy. Add a couple of dashes of Worcestershire Sauce.
Add the duck back in and simmer for an hour.
Remove the duck to a plate. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and add back into the sauce. Simmer for another hour or longer, adding more stock if it gets too dry. You want the sauce to end up thick. Taste to check the seasoning and adjust. I added a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce at this point to add a little tang.
Cook the cavatelli in abundant salted water until they float for a minute or two. Taste along the way to your preferred doneness. Drain and add them to the sauce, letting them soak up the sauce for a minute or two. Serve, topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.