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Parmigiano Portfolio - #2Parmigian Polenta with Duck And Brussels Sprouts

I’ve received a few comments lately that my recipes should contain fewer ingredients. This is not one of those. However, in my defense, this is actually more than recipe. If you make nothing else, make this stock. It’s so much better than any vegetable, chicken or beef broth you’ll ever have, and you can do so much with it.

But first, do you save your Parmigiano cheese rinds? Every time I finish a wedge, I throw the rind in a bag in the freezer. If you haven’t, save this recipe and start saving, maybe even ask your friends to save some for you so you can make this sooner. You’ll need a pound of rinds for this recipe.


1 halved head of garlic

1 quartered onion

olive oil, enough to sauté garlic and onion

1 handful of thyme

Sprigs of parsley

1 bay leaf

1 shake of black peppercorns

1 cup of dry white wine

1 pound Parmigiano rinds

8 cups of water


Start by sautéing a halved head of garlic and a quartered onion in some olive oil, along with a handful of thyme, a few sprigs of parsley, a bay leaf, and a shake of black peppercorns. Once the garlic is browned, add a cup of dry white wine and simmer, scraping the pot to get the brown bits loosened up, until reduced by half.

Add the rinds and 8 cups of water.

The whole thing simmers until it tastes robust and has reduced by half, about 2-3 hours, tasting and stirring every so often so the rinds don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Strain, and then use in an of the suggestions I’ve listed, or other ones I haven’t even thought of.

I used the stock for polenta, which I served under duck breasts. I was going to serve carrots with it, but take a look at these little baby Brussels Sprouts I got at Janssen’s! (Center picture below). How can you not get excited about great ingredients like that? A simple roast in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper was all they needed.


2 Duck breasts

handful of sage leaves

1/8 pound of prosciutto

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup Aged Balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup Parmigiano stock


Take the duck breasts out of the fridge. Score the skin (but not the meat) in a cross-hatch pattern, making the cross-hatches about 1/2 inch across; this helps the fat render and will give you a crispier skin.

Salt it well on both sides, then let it sit on a cutting board for at least 15.

Lay the breasts skin side down on medium low to let the fat start to render. Turn the heat to medium-high.

Let the pan do its job. Cook at a sizzle -- not an inferno. Think about how bacon sounds in the pan when you cook it, and you have the right idea. How long? It depends. I like my duck medium-to-medium-rare. You can watch from the side how much it’s cooking through, but much depends on the size. You’ll hear the sizzle start to die – perhaps 4-6 minutes. You’ll want to do ¾ of your cooking on the skin side to render the fat.

Throw a few fresh sage leaves into the fat on the pan and move them around in the fat. Turn the breasts over and cook on medium low. Cut a few pieces of the prosciutto into strips and add them to the fat and sage.

Take the duck off the heat and let it rest on a cutting board, skin side up. This would be a good time to grind black pepper over it. Drain the prosciutto on a paper towel.

Follow the directions on the polenta box, but sub the stock for the water.

Serve the breasts over the polenta with a side of your favorite vegetable. Mix the balsamic with the stock and drizzle over the veggies and the duck. Top with the fried prosciutto.

Here are some great ways to use this stock:

1. Any other vegetable-based soups or stews

(I braised a small pork roast in it with some veggies and orecchiette - great soup!)

2. This goes especially well with white beans and greens, like escarole or kale.

3. Risotto, even add a handful of cheese at the end

4. Deglazing a pan, and if you’re feeling decadent, add some cream.

5. Stuffing or savory bread pudding, with plenty of fresh herbs

Grab a nice fruity Syrah or Pinot Noir for the table.

Then start hoarding rinds all over again.

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