Tagliatelle with Duck Ragu

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Duck Ragu

Introduction

In the autumn and winter I like to use whatever meat is plentiful in my ragu. Wild rabbit and wild boar (with bitter chocolate) are particular favourites, lamb shanks can be fantastic, goose too.

I made this version with duck legs mostly drumsticks, but you can substitute any of the meats mentioned above. The secret is to use cuts of meat that require long slow cooking.

Wild or domestic duck are equally good, but the wild bird will take longer to cook.

Sweet Potato or Squash Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Sweet Potato or Squash Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Introduction

Thanksgiving and Christmas are times to celebrate but they can also be used to innovate in the kitchen. I am happy to be constrained by “traditional” ingredients as long as I am free to choose what to do with them.

The reason for scare quotes: traditional = old bad habit, constraint and enemy of innovation; I have little time for it.

I came up with this dish for a Thanksgiving dinner in Atlanta a couple of years ago. We had sent our guests a wide list of ingredients and asked them to choose the flavours that they most associated with Thanksgiving, celebration and autumn/fall. This dish, one of many small courses that we served, was a result of their choices.

I had wanted to do something with sweet potato that showed it in a different light. The dish is equally good with sweet potato or squash, but look for a Potimarron or Hokkaido squash, they are less moist which is essential.

Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto

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Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto

Introduction

I have or thought I had a 'Zucca piena di Napoli' squash growing, a rare Italian variety with a beautiful blue-ish green hue. While I was away last week it turned a pale tan colour because it is actually butternut squash. No complaints butternut has an excellent flavour and is particularly good in risotto and soup.

I let the squash, the whopper pictured below which weighed 2.2kg (almost 5lbs), mature a day or two more on the vine and then let it sit for a couple of days once cut to allow it to dry a little. This concentrates the flavour.

Any firm autumn\winter squash will work. I am looking forward to experimenting with some of the varieties that we have planted in the kitchen garden; let's hope they don't all turn out to be butternut.

Roast Squash with Roquefort, Walnuts and Jus

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Squash from our garden cut in half

Introduction

I ate this dish in Barbuto, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan (review) a couple of years ago. When I cut this squash open the other day, I immediately thought of it.

I used the squash straight from my garden, but it is excellent with acorn or butternut squash.

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