Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dinner on the Fly: Duck Confit Carbonara with Braised Greens and Garlic Scapes

I fantasize about a butcher.  Not just the man but the place. No styrofoam, no plastic, just smooth brown paper that creases clean in the corners, folded on a steel countertop.  The man behind the counter would wear a white apron with red stains and an amiable greeting like your friendly neighborhood serial killer.  At some point we would know each other by name.

I realize that as a New Yorker I have no right to complain about not having access to anything.  It is true that I can get pretty much any exotic ingredient that is worthy of a trip outside my five mile radius (that travel time being equivalent to thirty miles outside the NYC area).  But we can eat just about anything from from grizzly bear to emu to any number of reptiles.  Does anyone ever wonder how we narrowed our choices down to just three; beef, chicken and pork?  In my utopian fantasy, there would be world peace and a neighborhood butcher that sold not just pork, beef and chicken but rabbit, duck, ostrich, bison and something I could try on a dare.  

We don't eat meat everyday anyway, so our specialty meats are really a treat.  Usually the result of a special outing. Duck, although not high on the list of exoticism, is a rare and coveted dinner at our house.   Especially for a week night.

Duck Confit

This is something you make ahead and use sparingly as it is very rich.  It is remarkably easy to for such a fancy sounding name. 
  • 2 duck legs
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • extra duck fat to cover the duck legs
  • tiny sprig of rosemary (optional) 
You need a oven proof dish that is just big enough to fit your duck legs.  Do not preheat our oven.  Place one garlic clove and rosemary sprig under each duck leg.  Cover almost entirely with extra duck fat.  About one cup to 2 legs.  Put your duck in the oven and turn it on to 250 degrees.  You want the duck in the oven while it is pre-heating.  This is super slow cooking on very low heat.  Leave for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Duck Confit Carbonara with Braised Greens and Garlic Scapes
  • 2 tablespoons duck fat from the duck conft
  • 1 bunch of braising greens such as mustard greens, spinach, kale or chard, chopped
  • 5 garlic scapes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated grana padana
  • 1 lb of spaghetti
  • Duck meat from confit for serving
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Salt your water and boil your pasta. Beat your eggs and cheese together Melt your duck fat in a skillet or large sautee pan.  Add your greens and garlic scapes.  If they get a little dry as they are cooking add a little of the pasta water.  When pasta is done add it to your greens if the pan is big enough.  If it isn't you can do the reverse.  Add your egg mixture and toss for a few minutes.  The egg will cook and thicken with the heat of the pasta but not separate. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with duck meat on top.


  1. So glad I saw this post on Twitter! Hilarious!
    I am currently obsessed with all kinds of confit, and this looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing, and making me chuckle regarding the "friendly neighborhood serial killer!"

  2. I saw this post on Twitter too. This is a great dish. Why have we limited ourselves to chicken, pork and beef? There are so many fabulous meats that need to become part of our food culture.

    I travel to NYC at least once a year for my food and city fix. There is no other place like it.

    I am your newest follower.

  3. Is this some kinda telepathy..? Just the other day I was thinking about duck, and here you post a duck recipe! I haven't had this meat in a real long time and it's a challenge to find any other poultry other than chicken in my part of the world.

  4. hard pressed to get much better than this....