Back in July when we had long warm days and sharp gooseberries in the market I made a dish that would prove to be one of my customers favourites of the year. Confit duck ravioli with the sharpness of gooseberries to work with the rich fattiness of the duck. Now its the middle of winter and the gooseberries are long gone. Fortunately, we can still make a great variation on the dish by using fresh cranberries!
Cranberries are doomed to be typecast as the must-have accompaniment to Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey. The sharp sweet flavour (cranberry sauce often has a boatload of sugar in it) works with the often too-dry turkey. But cranberries can be put to use elsewhere. Whether roasted with thyme, put into oatmeal or infused in vodka, this article has a bunch of ideas for you. In fact it was the idea of roasting with thyme that gave me inspiration for this dish. I realised that the sharp, almost tannic quality of the berry would parlay with the duck in the same way the gooseberries had done in the summer.
Since I had some thyme in the fridge too, I saw no reason not to add that to the pasta mix. It seems to really bring the whole thing together. Although making your own ravioli might seem labour intensive, it’s actually really quick and simple to make. All in all this dish took me less than an hour to get on the table, so I’d really recommend trying this out sometime…
- One confit Duck Leg
- About 2 oz Cranberries
- A small handful of thyme leaves
- A smallish Shallot, finely chopped
- A tablespoon of Ricotta
- Flour (if you're using lasagna sheets)
- About a tablespoon of butter
- A good handful of Watercress or other peppery salad green
- Juice of half a Lemon
- About the same amount of Olive Oil
- Take half the cranberries and roughly chop them.
- Heat half the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. As it starts to foam, add the shallot, half the thyme and chopped cranberries. Turn the heat down and let them cook gently for about five minutes while you prep the duck.
- Remove most of the fat from the duck leg and save it for another dish. Shred and chop the meat finely and put it in a mixing bowl with the ricotta. Now remove the shallot and cranberries from the heat, allow to cool a little then add to the duck. Mix everything together, taste and season as needed.
- Dust a work surface with a little flour and use a rolling pin to roll two sheets a little thinner than they are. Now take your duck mix and put about six separate teaspoons' worth of mix on one of the sheets. Dip your finger into some water and dampen the sheet around the mix. Lay the second sheet on top and starting from the middle gently pat down so you expel all the air and seal the two sheets of pasta together. Cut into separate ravioli with a knife.
- Set a medium pan of well salted water on to a gentle boil. To cook the ravioli drop them in to the water a few at a time and let them cook for 3-4 minutes until they float to the top.
- While you're doing this heat the remaining half of the butter and the remaining cranberries and thyme in the frying pan. Let them soften and burst a little here and there but be careful not to burn the butter or the berries.
- To serve, lay the ravioli on the plate and top with the cranberries and butter. Season well with pepper. You can dress the watercress on the plate by squeezing the lemon over it and giving it a quick drizzle of Olive Oil and a little salt and pepper.
Pairing with Duck Ravioli and Cranberries
Although not quite as sharp as the gooseberries, I think the pairing advice still stands:
When choosing something to go with the duck ravioli, I would think more about the sharpness of the berries than the fatty richness of the duck. If you fancy a red, I’d keep it light with a Pinot Noir. For a white wine, I’d probably shoot for a Viognier (although duck and fruit do like a nice Gerwürtztraminer I think it might end up being a touch too floral here). And you could always go down the middle with a lovely Grenache Rosé. Of course you might not fancy a glass of wine; I think if I were going for beer-type stuff I might try one of the lambic fruit beers or a good hard cider. And if I was being a softie, I think I’d still want a little sharpness in my glass: lemonade or even orange juice would be perfectly fine.
Duck: Hudson Valley Duck Farm
Cranberries: Grown by Dana Miller Family, supplied by Breezy Hill Orchard
Ricotta: Di Palo
Shallots: Paffenroth Gardens
Lasagna Sheets: Piemonte Ravioli Company
Thyme: S & S.O. Produce
Watercress: Two Guys From Woodbridge
Butter: Kate’s Butter