Que Syrah Syrah

A glass of Syrah pairs with duck-Syrah ragu over Syrah-flour pasta.

A glass of Syrah pairs with duck-Syrah ragu over Syrah-flour pasta.

That’s what you’ll be humming, when you dig into this lusty pasta dish.

Because there’s wine, wine, everywhere in it.

There’s Syrah in the meaty duck ragu that tops it. There’s even Syrah flour in the pasta dough for the homemade fettuccini. And of course, a glass of — what else — Syrah to sip alongside it all.

I was inspired to cook “Venetian Duck Ragu” with “Syrah Fettuccini” when I received samples of the new WholeVine products from Santa Rosa.

Company founders Barbara Banke and Peggy Furth started their line of grapeseed flours, grape skin flours and grape seed oils — all gluten-free — as a way to make greater use of what vineyards provide. They’ve also added a line of four different gluten-free cookies ($6.99 for eight of them), as well as a line of eight different wheat crackers ($6.99 for 12), all made with their flours.

Syrah skin flour.

Syrah skin flour.

Moreover, they donate a portion of profits to charitable organizations that help children in need.

The varietal grape skin and seed flours ($6.50 per 1/2-pound bag) are made from Chardonnay, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Syrah and Zinfandel grapes grown in certified sustainable California coastal vineyards.

Besides baking with them, WholeVine founders suggest using them to thicken cream sauces, to dust homemade marshmallows, for seasoning rubs and salts, and to emulsify salad dressings.

Grape skin and grape seed flours are all gluten-tree.

Grape skin and grape seed flours are all gluten-tree.

I had my heart set on making pasta  when I saw the Syrah grapeskin flour, which is as dark as cocoa powder. Not that I normally go in for eating raw flour, but I just had to taste this in its natural state. There’s a tang to it from the tannins, as well as a nutty, earthy flavor. The aroma of the flour is fruity, almost like that of a damp wine cellar.

I adapted a pasta dough recipe from the WholeVine Web site by Chef Eric Frischkorn of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, which originally called for the Merlot grapeskin flour. It makes for rich, eggy noodles, as there are 2 whole eggs, plus 5 yolks in the dough. So much so that even though you end up with less than a pound of pasta, it’s more than enough to feed four people.

Notice the color of the pasta dough.

Notice the color of the pasta dough.

Cutting strands of fettuccini.

Cutting strands of fettuccini.

When I think of Syrah with its typical dark cherry, chocolate and pepper characteristics, it can’t help but make me think of duck.

The “Venetian Duck Ragu” recipe is from the September 1, 2011 issue of Fine Cooking magazine. duck legs are braised with garlic, onion, celery, carrot, sage, bay leaf, canned tomatoes and a cup of wine. When cool enough to handle, you shred the duck meat and add it back to the pot to create a thick pasta sauce redolent of wine-y goodness. The sauce can be made the day before, too.

The pasta, which is not gluten-free because it does include some all-purpose flour, is the color of chocolate crossed with buckwheat, dark brown with a hint of purple to it.

Dig a fork in to enjoy a celebration of Syrah.

I’ll drink to that.

A close-up of the dish in all its glory.

A close-up of the dish in all its glory.

Venetian Duck Ragu

(Serves 4)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 skin-on, bone-in duck legs and thighs

Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped

2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 fresh bay leaf or 1/2 dried

1 cup Syrah

1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes

1/2 to 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth

Syrah fettuccine (recipe follows)

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving (optional)

Heat oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the duck legs and thighs with salt and pepper and arrange them in the pot, skin side down. Sear until the skin is browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn legs over and brown the other sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the duck to a deep platter. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat and discard or save for another use.

Reduce heat to medium low. Put celery, garlic, onion, carrot, sage and bay leaf in the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, 7 to 8 minutes.

Pour in the wine and increase heat to high. Cook at a lively simmer for 1 minute and then reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and 1/2 cup of the broth. Return duck to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low or low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and simmer until the meat is fork-tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the duck from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, skim excess fat from the top of the sauce with a large spoon. If the sauce seems thin, continue simmering until flavorful and thickened to a saucy consistency.

Remove duck skin. Discard or crisp up in a saute pan or under the broiler for a fun little snack. Shred the meat. Add shredded meat to the sauce, along with the other 1/2 cup of broth if the sauce seems too thick. Let sauce simmer gently for 15 minutes; discard garlic and bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When ready to serve, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta until al dente, about 3 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return pasta to the pot and toss with some of the ragu, adding a little cooking water if it seems dry. Serve pasta with more ragu spooned over the top, garnished with freshly grated Parmiginao-Regginao, if you like.

Make Ahead Tips: The ragu can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat gently before tossing with pasta.

Adapted from a recipe in the September 1, 2011 issue of Fine Cooking

Syrah Grapeskin Fettuccine

(Serves 4)

5 egg yolks

2 whole eggs

1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil

5 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

4.65 ounces semolina flour, plus extra for dusting

1.3 ounces Syrah Grapeskin Flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon water

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and oil.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the flours and salt.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the egg mixture inside.  Mix for 2 to 3 minutes on low speed, adding water to moisten if necessary.

Place dough on a floured work surface and knead until a ball is formed.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.  Roll dough through a pasta machine, starting at the #0 setting and working up to the #5 setting, dusting with all-purpose flour as needed.  When the sheet of dough gets too long to handle, simply fold the dough in half and continue to roll through the machine.  Dust the sheets of dough with semolina flour and cut into fettuccini.

Cook, according to directions in ragu recipe.

Adapted from a recipe by Chef Eric Frischkorn of Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates


More Wine Products: Cabernet Wine Flour and Cabernet Cocoa Powder

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