Duck Ragu with Pancetta and Green Olives

 

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For me it doesn’t get any better than duck. Steak can be great, fish exquisite, but canard tops them all. There’s no arguing with taste, so instead of arguing with me just know that if we end up marooned on the same island, and my side has the ducks and your side has the emus or llamas or cows, and there’s only sufficient forage and fresh water for one set of domesticated farm animals, yours will have to learn to swim. Before I wrote this I ran through the blog wondering how often I’d written about duck before. To my surprise, the answer was once. If you’re living someplace warm, and fancy some grilled duck breast with peaches, have at it. The rest of us in New England are glancing skyward, like GAME of THRONES extras with their first speaking roles, muttering, “Winter is coming.” Grilling may not be in our cards these days, but as lovers of duck we are resourceful. We’re plundering one of Rialto’s most well-known dishes for its flavor combinations—Slow-Roasted Duck with Green Olives–and translating them into something much simpler. A homey pasta dish. Herewith, Duck Ragu with Pancetta and Green Olives.

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PASSION FRUIT SPONGE CUSTARD

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This week: Passion Fruit Sponge Custard.  Not the most elegant dessert we’ve ever made, but ignore the appearance, go for the taste, like the fruit itself.  Ripe passion fruit resemble hard-boiled eggs, after the apocalypse, wrinkly red-brown ovals.  But inside, oh…  a pucker-sweet crazy delicious psychedelic orange pulp dotted with black seeds.  (You eat that goop?!  I thought nature made things in bright colors as a warning – poison! poison! poison!?  Nope.  Nature wants you to eat that goop, to, uh, carry the seeds away.)  The flavor of passion fruit hovers somewhere between orange and mango, just as sweet, but way tarter than either.  The only exotic fruit with an equal effort/pleasure ratio, IMO, is the durian, but we’ll reserve durian for another day.  In the meantime, try this sponge custard, an antique English dessert that’s not really spongy or a custard, flavored with an intense sweet-sour taste of the tropics.