Holiday Party Dish
Carla Hall's Duck Ragu over Butternut Squash Grits
- For the Duck Ragu:
- 8 whole Duck Legs with Thighs (skin removed; about 4lbs)
- Kosher Salt
- freshly ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 2 large Yellow Onions (finely chopped)
- 2 medium Carrots (finely chopped)
- 2 Celery Ribs (finely chopped)
- 2 Jalapenos (stemmed; seeded; finely chopped)
- 4 Garlic Cloves (minced)
- 2 28- ounce cans diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
- 2 cups Chicken Stock
- 2 cups Chianti or other dry Red Wine
- 2 fresh or dried Bay Leaves
- Arugula (for garnish)
- Ricotta Salata (for garnish)
For the Butternut Squash Broth:
- 1 2- pound Butternut Squash
- 1 Leek (trimmed; coarsely chopped; and thoroughly rinsed)
- 2 Yellow Onions (coarsely chopped)
- 3 Carrots (coarsely chopped)
- 2 Celery Ribs (coarsely chopped)
- 6 smashed Garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoons whole Black Peppercorns
- 2 Serrano Chiles (coarsely chopped)
- 2 sprigs fresh Thyme
- 1 sprig fresh Rosemary
- 2 fresh or dried Bay Leaves
- 1 quart Chicken Stock
For the Butternut Squash Grits:
- 1 1/4 cups Whole Milk
- Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Stone-Ground Grits
- 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus more if needed)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Herbs (preferably a mixture of Parsley; Rosemary; and Thyme)
- For the Duck Ragu: Remove excess fat from the duck legs and thighs and season with salt and pepper.
- In a 12-quart heavy-bottomed casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add half of the duck and cook, turning to brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a large dish. Repeat with the remaining duck.
- Add the onions, carrots, celery, jalapenos, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 9 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, wine and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Return the duck to the pot and return to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer until the duck is tender, about 1 hour.
- Transfer the duck to a dish. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat into bite-size pieces. Discard the bones and return the meat to the casserole. Simmer uncovered until the sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
- Divide the grits among eight serving dishes. Top with the duck ragu and garnish with the arugula. Use a grater to grate the ricotta salata over the arugula.
- For the Butternut Squash Broth: Trim and peel the squash, then cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, reserving the peel, seeds and strings. Cut enough of the flesh into 1/4-inch dice to measure 1 1/2 cups. Reserve. Coarsely chop the remaining flesh.
- In a very large saucepan, combine the coarsely chopped squash, squash peel, seeds and strings and the leeks, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, peppercorns, chiles, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and stock. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by 3 inches, about 3 quarts of liquid total. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve 1 1/4 cups for the grits and refrigerate the remaining broth for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- For the Butternut Squash Grits: In a large saucepan, combine the milk and squash broth and generously season with salt. Whisk the grits into the cold liquid then continue whisking while bringing to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a light simmer.
- Continue cooking, whisking frequently, until the grits are soft and creamy and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. If the mixture become dry before the grits soften, add more squash broth.
- While the grits are cooking, in a large bowl, toss the diced squash with the oil until evenly coasted. Season with salt. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add a single layer of the squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and tender, about 4 minutes. Add a little more oil to the pan if the squash is sticking. Transfer to a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining squash.
- Stir the butter, cream, and herbs into the grits until the butter melts. Top grits with squash.