Duck Ragu

duck raguThe origin of ragù sauce can be traced back to Bologna, Italy.  Duck ragu is a Venetian dish where the focus is more on the meat and herbs rather than the tomatoes.  This slow-cooked sauce can also be made with beef, pork, veal, lamb or boar.  I enjoy this sort of dish as it’s perfect for entertaining; the meat sauce can be made ahead of time and gently reheated while the pasta is cooking thus leaving more time with my friends and family.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from BBC Good Food

splash of olive oil
4 duck legs (alternatively use duck breast, skin removed)
1 onion, chopped
1 to 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup red wine
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
1 cup chicken stock
3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons milk
500g tagliatelle (you can also use large rigatoni, penne or gnocchi)
handful of parsley, chopped

Heat oil in a large pan. Season duck legs with salt and pepper and brown on all sides for about 10 minutes.  Remove to a plate and set aside. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat and discard or save for another use. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant then stir in cinnamon. Return the duck to the pan, add wine, tomatoes, stock, herbs, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours, stirring once in a while.

duck ragu sauceRemove duck legs from the sauce and place on a plate. Shred meat and discard the bones and fat.  Add meat back to the sauce with the milk and simmer, uncovered, for a further 10-15 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, and reserve a cup of the pasta water. Add pasta to the ragù. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce, adding a splash of pasta water if it looks dry. Serve with parsley and grated Parmesan.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  If you can’t find fresh duck legs or breast, look in the frozen meat section of your grocery store.  I found mine, frozen, at Chater Meat Market.  Enjoy!