Talk about the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. There I was in Sicily, having a nice bowl of pasta con le sarde, seated next to Sal and Gary from New York. Gary organizes Sicilian tours, while Sal runs the Degustibus cooking school atop Macy’s in NYC. After a little Italian food chit-chat and a glass or two of wine, the next thing I know I’m at a Degustibus cooking class in NY, which is being taught by Chef Andrea Trapani, from the Apicius cooking school in Florence. He’s also the executive chef for the Fiorentina soccer team, and all I can say is that if he can feed them, he can feed me. So impressed, I offered to feature one of his favorite recipes in Sunday Pasta™. In the winter, he likes pappardelle alle scorzette sul ragu di anatra al ginepro, which loosely translates in “orange zest pappardelle with a juniper berry, duck ragu.” Yes, it took me all day to make, and I ate too much crispy duck skin along the way, but it sure was worth it. Dee-licious! So good that I am certain even Kevin Bacon would love it.
Combine all the ingredients in the usual way, mix until a smooth dough is obtained. Wrap in plastic and allow to rest 30 minutes before forming the pappardelle.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove any excess fat from the neck and body cavities and rinse the duck well, inside and out, under cold water; pat dry with a paper towel. With a small, sharp knife, pierce the skin of the duck all over, about an inch apart. Rub salt and pepper into the skin of the duck.
Place the duck on a rack in a roasting tray, breast side up. Pour a few cups of boiling water over the duck and into the roasting tray. Roast the duck for 2-3 hours or until no fat remains and the skin is crispy, turning the duck over after every 30 minutes. The internal breast temperature should be 165°F (75°C).
Once the duck is cooked, remove it from the oven and transfer it onto a carving board. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Remove the meat, starting with the legs and thighs (dark meat), and then the breasts, until about a half pound (8-12 ounces) is off the bone. Place the meat in a bowl and add the marinade. Let the meat marinate overnight.
Once the meat is removed, brown the bones in the oven at 400°F for 20 minutes, add the vegetables peeled and cut roughly and cook for further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and put in a pot. Cover with water and allow to simmer for 2 hours, skimming constantly. Strain and chill until ready to use.
Finely chop the onion, celery and carrot and sauté’ gently with olive oil until golden. Remove the marinade from the meat. Dice the meat and add it to the previously cooked onion mixture. Sauté the meat until it changes color, sprinkle with red wine and brandy, allowing each to evaporate.
Add the tomatoes, duck stock, salt and pepper. Allow to cook about 45 minutes.
Bring a pot of generously salted water to boil. Cook the pappardelle until just shy of al dente.
Drain the pasta and add to the ragu. Let them cook together for about a minute. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano.
*Cooking time breakdown:2+ hours to roast the duck; 2+ hours to cook the stock, 1 hour to make the pasta, 1 hour to cook the ragu. * Cooking and prep time can be reduced by using store bought fresh pasta, duck breast, chicken stock, and canned tomatoes (but that’s a lot of cheating....)