Duck Lasagna Strapazatta

July 16, 2009 at 10:58 pm 2 comments

Duck Lasagna

The final recipe I tested for my Cookbook Challenge review of the Sweet Basil Cookbook was Duck Lasagna Strapazatta.  I picture many readers saying to themselves: “Duck – check.  Lasagna – check.  Strapa-wha?”  In general, I try not to go into long, pedantic descriptions of certain foods, as both the well-informed and the uninterested among us might yawn at a recounting of the conflicts over the definitive elements of cassoulet or the supposed aphrodisiacal properties of oysters. Yet strapazatta is not a term you come across frequently, and even my Google searches neglected to produce a consensus on the definition.

From what I gather, strapazatta literally translates to “bungled” in Italian and is used in cooking to refer to ‘free-form’ dishes.  I am copying the spelling directly from the cookbook, though online another recipe title often pops up: uova strapazzate, or scrambled eggs.  It seems likely that strapazatta is an Americanization of the word strapazzate and that the general concept is a stirred-up, rustic preparation — here, of lasagna (also known as lasagne: further proof of my theory).

So much for avoiding long-winded explanations…  To keep the rest brief: I liked this, I didn’t love it.  I think the best translation based on what I put on the table was the first: “bungled”.  The port made the sauce quite sweet, and it neglected the strong savory component (oregano? more fontina?) to counter it.  In addition, the noodles refused to cooperate — the short lasagna pieces didn’t separate well and I ended up having to place them in the dish in rows, much as I would have with whole lasagna noodles.  The texture was phenomenal, however, with the pleasing contrast of rough shredded duck, sheets of smooth pasta, and crusty cheese topping.  If I hadn’t been following the recipe so closely, for the purposes of a proper review of the cookbook, I might have thinned out the sauce with some beef stock and added a couple of savory herbs to finish.  All told, however, the ragu had real merit as a concept — it just needed a few tweaks and a different pasta to top.

Duck Lasagna Strapazatta, from the Sweet Basil Cookbook [Printable Recipe]
(serves 4 to 6)

4 duck confit legs

mirepoix2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 Spanish onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbs.)
10 white mushrooms, quartered (about 2 cups)
2 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced into 1/2 inch wide strips
1 Tbs. dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups port wine
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup red sauce (use your favorite marinara sauce or follow the recipe below)

Fresh pasta sheets, cut into 3-inch wide strips
2 cups grated fontina cheese

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over moderate heat. Add the carrot, onion and celery. Saute the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes, until the ingredients begin to brown. Add the garlic and the white and portobello mushrooms. Continue sauteing for 5 more minutes, until the ingredients begin to caramelize. Add the dried porcini mushrooms, port, bay leaf, and sage. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then add the Worcestershire sauce and the red sauce. Decrease the heat and allow the sauce to stew for 8 to 10 minutes, until all of the flavors have had a chance to get acquainted. Stir the duck in with the sauce and remove from the heat.

Duck_RaguMeanwhile, in a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the pasta, stirring it to keep from sticking. Cook for 1 minute, or until al dente [I used no-boil lasagna noodles and 2 minutes of boiling softened them up, though I would recommend serving this over penne rigate or rigatoni or even pappardelle — adjust cook time accodingly]. Drain thoroughly.

Duck_pastaStir the cooked pasta in with the sauce. Transfer the pasta and sauce to a large casserole dish, sprinkle with the fontina, and bake in the oven [at 350 degrees] until the cheese is bubbling. Serve garnished with parsley.

P.S. — the cookbook also suggests that subbing in sliced eggplant for the duck would make a lovely vegetarian version.

duck lasagna

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Entry filed under: Main Course, Recipe. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Caroline Cox  |  July 17, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    It was tasty!!!!

  • 2. Tanya  |  August 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    This looks great, I always order the goat cheese ravioli when I got to sweet basil. I didn’t see the marinara sauce posted, would you mind sharing it?

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