Warm Pasta Salad with Smoked Duck and Radicchio

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This is a dish and method that I invented for fast lunches at Stars. It uses up odds and ends, and as with the cold pasta salad, there is no limit to the possible variations. Everything can be prepared beforehand, even the pasta, which you cook and treat as in the previous recipe, then reheat in boiling water. You can, of course, cook the pasta from the dry state just for this dish, and by the time it is done, all the other ingredients will be assembled and heated in a bowl over the pasta water. Use little bits of left-over sauces or roasting juices—in fact, use whatever is on hand. Many different shapes of pasta can be used, from bowties to little ears; here, penne is used. If you don’t have radicchio, use Belgian endive, or cooked asparagus, leeks, eggplant, etc.

Ingredients

  • 2 small hearts of radicchio
  • ½ pound combined dried green and white macaroni
  • 1 cup smoked or roasted duck meat, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons reduced meat juices or duck stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 16 slices Fontina, raclette, or Gruyère cheese, about 6 by 4 by 1/16 inch
  • ¼ cup walnut halves, toasted
  • 1 cup tomato vinaigrette, made without shallots
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped duck cracklings, optional

Method

Heat the broiler or the oven to 450°F.

Cut the cores from the radicchio and pull the leaves off. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the pasta; stir for 1 minute. Cover the pot so that the water comes back to the boil as soon as possible and then remove the cover. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the duck meat, half the herbs, the meat juices, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Just before the pasta is done, put the bowl over the pasta water to warm it, tossing the ingredients a couple of times. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, add it to the bowl, and mix well. Toss in the radicchio.

Divide the pasta mixture among 4 plates. Cover each portion with 4 slices of the cheese and broil until the cheese melts.

Mix the walnuts and tomato vinaigrette and spoon over the salads. Sprinkle the duck cracklings on top and serve.

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