Did I mention I have a cold?  Did I mention Victor now has a cold?  UGH!  Let us just say that we are not amused.

This is not fun.

I’m looking for quick and easy meals right now.  I just don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen.  The latest issue of La Cucina Italiana saved the day with a whole section on bean dishes.  I love beans.  This recipe fit the bill perfectly.  It’s mostly cooking unattended.

The recipe caught my eye for a couple of reasons – one because I like beans, but even more important, I had a duck breast in the freezer.  I could make this without leaving the house.  Right now, that’s an important consideration.

The duck breast had been in there for a while.  I’d just move it out of the way as I searched for other things or put more things in. When I finally took it out last night to thaw in the ‘fridge overnight, I noticed the label said “Sell By Aug 13, 2009.”  Did I mention it had been in the freezer for a while?!?  It was vacuum-sealed and came out perfect.

I don’t normally think of duck breast and Italian, but it was a classic dish that really shows how a few simple flavors can taste so wonderful – even when ones taste buds are compromised.

My only change was I used red beans instead of black.  I had canned black beans but none dried and I really wanted to do it right.

Besides, beans are often interchangeable…

Fagioli Neri con Ragù di Anatra

Black Beans with Duck Ragù

  • 1 1/2 cups dried black beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 pound boneless duck breast, skin removed and meat cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small rosemary sprig
  • fine sea salt
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Rinse beans, then place in a large saucepan and cover with water by 3 inches.  Soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Add bay leaf and 1 tbsp oil to the saucepan with the beans, then place pan over medium heat and bring liquid to a simmer.  Reduce to a bare simmer and cook until beans are very tender, adding water as necessary to keep beans covered by about 1/2 inch, 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on freshness of beans).

Reserving 1/2 cup of bean cooking liquid, drain beans.

In a large saucepan, heat butter and remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.  Add duck and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, rosemary, and generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes.  Remove and discard rosemary, then add wine.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until wine is evaporated, about 10 minutes.  Add reserved cooking liquid, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until duck is tender, about 45 minutes.

Add beans to ragù and cook, covered, until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Serve warm, drizzled with oil.

I can’t get over how flavorful these were. – especially since neither of us have our full taste-facilities.  For lunch we had leftover chicken soup from last night.   It was quite spicy but I added a few generous splashes of Tabasco sauce to it just for flavor.  This had it all with just a couple of ingredients.

I’m down for the count for at least a couple of days.

I see a roast chicken and even more chicken soup in my future.