Region: Italy, Lombardy
Category: Pasta with Fowl
In Lombardy and the Veneto regions of northern Italy duck hunting is popular and when not eaten roasted whole or cut up into risotto an earthy and rustic pasta dish is possible. This preparation can also be made with chicken livers which are easier to procure. It’s a dish I make about once a year, usually in the winter, by which time I’ve collected the duck livers required from previous dinners. I keep them well-wrapped in the freezer. The most important thing to know about this preparation is that the gizzards and liver must be cooked separately and the livers are not cooked for more than 2 minutes.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
¼ cup brown lentils
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
10 ounces duck gizzards and liver, thinly sliced
while still partially frozen, kept separated from each other
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ pound whole wheat penne
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basilWater as needed
1. Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. Turn the heat to high and once they are tender in 20 to 25 minutes drain and set aside.
2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil with the garlic over medium-high heat until sizzling, then add the zucchini and gizzards, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the zucchini is soft and the gizzards are tender, about 8 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat, salt abundantly, then add the pasta in handfuls. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick, until al dente. Drain without rinsing.
4. Add the livers and basil to the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the liver loses any pinkness. Deglaze the skillet with 3 tablespoons water while stirring then toss with the pasta and serve hot.
Chicken livers can be used in place of duck livers.