Requires: potato ricer or tamis (drum sieve), slotted spoon
Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 125ml of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain the porcini, reserving the porcini soaking liquid and set aside. Roughly chop the porcini.
Note: Dried porcini mushrooms are available from Italian food stores and gourmet delicatessens.
Heat half (20ml) of the olive oil in a large heavy-based stockpot over high heat. Add the duck, skin-side down and cook for 4 minutes or until golden. Turn and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the duck to a plate.
To make the Duck and porcini ragu’, you will need to start by making the ‘soffritto’ (sautéed base flavouring). Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy-based stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the carrot, celery, and bay leaves then cook, stirring, for a few minutes until the onion is soft.
Return the duck to the stockpot. Add the chopped porcini mushrooms and white wine. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the wine has reduced. Stir in the Italian passata, tomato paste, chicken stock and porcini soaking liquid. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours or until the meat falls off the bone easily. Stir the sauce occasionally so that the sauce does not stick to the pot and burn, then remove from the heat.
Meanwhile wash the potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender all the way through (approximately 20 minutes after the water has come to a boil).
To make the potato gnocchi, drain the potatoes and let them cool slightly. Prepare a medium sized bowl to place the mashed potatoes. Place cut side down into a potato ricer. Remove the potato skins each time you place a piece of potato into the potato ricer. Alternatively remove the potato skins and mash using a tamis (drum sieve) into a bowl. Mix the egg yolks into the mashed potato, then add the Parmigiano Reggiano. Gradually stir in the flour one spoon at a time, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Work in enough flour and knead gently until a soft, light dough forms.
Divide the dough into four portions. Cover three of the portions with plastic wrap (cling film) to keep them from drying out. Flour the work surface and roll one of the portions into a long rope about 1.5cm in thickness. Cut the rope into gnocchi (approximately 1.5cm in length). Take each piece of gnocchi and roll one at a time down the tines of a fork, letting it drop onto a lightly floured surface at the end. This motion will give the gnocchi their signature ridges. Arrange the gnocchi onto a very well-floured tray. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Note: Steps 5-7 can be prepared several hours in advance. Gnocchi can also be frozen.
Once cooked, remove the ragù from the heat. Allow to cool slightly, then remove duck pieces from the sauce. Shred the meat from the duck. Discard duck bones. Discard whole garlic clove. Return the shredded duck to the ragù.
Heat the Duck and porcini ragu’ over low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer.
Meanwhile bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the gnocchi in batches (they will sink to the bottom). Stir gently and cook until the gnocchi float to the surface. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon, transferring to a large bowl. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
Add 3/4 of the ragù to the bowl with gnocchi. Toss gently to combine. Divide Potato gnocchi with duck and porcini ragu’ among serving bowls. Top with ladleful’s of warm ragù. Add the finishing touch with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano and torn basil leaves (optional) to serve – buon appetito.