We finally made it over the mountains for a secondary Christmas with my parents (with some difficulty, involving a great deal of ice, rain and traffic), and my father cooked a duck in our honor. It was served with mashed potatoes, duck gravy and carrots with morels, and it was fabulous. But, as with a great deal of my father’s cooking, the true beauty arose with the leftovers, as a Duck Noodle.
There have been infinite forms of this dish over the years, one of the most memorable being the Elk Noodle, but we never turn up our noses at a Beef or Lamb Noodle. I once tried to reproduce a Beef Noodle myself at home, and it was very tasty but didn’t quite have that magic. I think I’m too impatient.
The core elements of the Noodle are leftover meat, cooked pasta, small-cut and thoroughly sauteed vegetables, and good broth. It creates a savory melange which is generally unreproducable and completely yummy. This particular Duck Noodle took shape as follows:
The duck carcass was picked over and made into stock, the meat chopped up and set aside. A chopped red onion went into the large iron skillet with some oil. Once it was sizzling, a small quantity of sweet red peppers went in – these had been roasted back in October at the end of pepper season and frozen – plus some reconstituted morels and a bit of their soaking water. A bunch of chopped kale was simmered in duck broth, then added in. Pasta (pipette shape, in this case) was cooked, drained, and added to the pan along with more duck broth, and the whole simmered down until the sauce became very intense. A spoonful of capers was tossed in along with the duck meat and the entirety consumed by all of us with a bottle of Little James. Nothing else was needed, save perhaps a few chocolate caramels.
I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s Eve! We’ll be doing our usual good luck noodles, Champagne and potato chips to usher in 2009. What are your year-end traditions?