7.24.2009

Chocolate Pasta

Rossi Pasta of Marietta, Ohio makes pasta in a wide variety of flavors.

50 and counting...

While browsing the local section of Kroger in Athens, Ohio I spotted a delectable rarity. Their Chocolato Cabernet Tagliarini is concocted with dark cocoa powder and Cabernet Sauvignon grape seed flour for a flavorful finish.

Chocolate and wine packed in pasta form is much too hard to resist!

I bought a package and looked up recipes online when I returned home. Much to my dismay most of the recipes were for dessert preparations doused in chocolate syrup and piled high with raspberries! I must confess that I'm not big on sugary sweets - GASP! - unless really in the mood for them.

I took this as a challenge and decided to create my own recipe that incorporates this pasta varietal.

After my first sampling of duck at M├ęchant Boeuf in Monteal and my recent encounter with quail at the Hopleaf in Chicago, I realized that either bird would be a tasty accompaniment to the pasta. Both have very rich, succulent dark meat that leans toward the sweeter side, more so the quail though.

I have also recently tried whole fresh Mission figs and discovered their delightfully light, slightly sweet and almost grassy flavor.

While browsing through the Joy of Cooking today I came across a recipe for Pan-Seared Duck Breasts with Fig and Red Wine Sauce.

Perfect!

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Begin by prepping the Fig and Red Wine Sauce:

Yield: 6 servings

This sauce can be made a week ahead and kept in a covered container in the refrigerator. If possible, use the large Calimyrna figs rather than the smaller, darker Mission figs.

Combine in a medium saucepan:
2 cups fruity dry red wine, such as a Zinfandel
1/4 cup duck or chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
One 2-inch strip lemon zest
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
Pinch of ground cloves or allspice

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Add 16 dried figs, stems removed.

Return the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently until the figs are very soft but still retain their shape, about 45 minutes. If the liquid reduces to less than 1 cup before the figs are soft, add a little water.
Remove from the heat, and remove the lemon zest and bay leaf. Puree 3 of the figs with 1/3 cup of the poaching liquid in a food processor or blender, then stir this mixture back into the remaining figs. If needed, thin the sauce with wine, stock or water.

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The recipe for the Pan-Seared Duck Breast is as follows:

Yield: 6 Servings

Have ready:
6 boneless, skinless duck breast halves

Combine in a nonreactive bowl:
3 tablespoons raspberry or fruit-flavored vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced onion, shallots, or scallions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Add the duck breasts to the marinade. Turn to coat, then cover and refrigerate for 2-12 hours

Remove the duck breasts from the marinade, scrape off the solids, and pat dry. Brush both sides of the breasts and a large heavy skillet with olive oil.

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat until the oil begins to smoke. Add the duck breasts and cook until the first side is lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Turn and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Remove duck breasts from pan and let rest on a carving board for 5 minutes.

Slice each breast against the grain on the bias. Be sure to keep the slices together for presentation.

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Boil the pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente (for this pasta it only takes 3-4 minutes).

Drain most of the liquid off, leaving a small amount in the pan.

Add a portion of the prepared sauce to the pasta, just enough to coat, and toss together.

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To assemble the plates:

Twirl a mound of pasta around a large fork or tongs and place in the center of the plate of your choosing (removing fork).

Fan out slices of duck breast around the base of the pasta.

Remove figs from saucepan and nestle a couple onto the plate.

Drizzle duck breast with remaining sauce.

Garnish the top of the pasta with one long dark chocolate curl if you wish.

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I have not tested this recipe yet, but I will once I find a vendor who sells duck breasts. Whole Foods sells whole frozen ducks, but I'll save tackling a whole bird for a rainy day. When I get around to preparing this dish I will be sure to add photos to the blog and update the recipe if need be.

Feel free to test out this recipe, if you can find the ingredients, and let me know what you think!

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