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Duck Ragù

Although you can make this ragù with duck breast, I prefer to use the meaty legs and thighs, which stay tender through the long simmer Venetian duck ragù is typically served with fat, tubular buckwheat noodles called bigoli, but it’s also delicious with whole-wheat fettuccine, spaghetti, or pappardelle.

Yields about 1 quart, enough for about 1 lb. pasta; serves 4 to 6

1 Tbs. 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 Tbs. chopped fresh sage

1 fresh bay leaf or ½ dried

1 cup dry Italian red wine, such as Valpolicella

28-oz. can chopped tomatoes

½ to 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth

Heat the 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 the legs over and brown the other sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the duck to a deep platter. Pour off all but about 1 Tbs. of the rendered fat and discard or save for another use.

Reduce the heat to medium low. Put the 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 the 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 ½ cup of the broth. Return the 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, 1½ to 2 hours.

Remove the duck from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, skim the 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.

Discard the duck skin and shred the meat. Add the shredded meat to the sauce, along with the other ½ cup of broth if the sauce seems too thick. Let the sauce simmer gently for 15 minutes; discard the garlic and bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with cooked pasta and grated cheese, if you like.

The ragù can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.


It is a quote. Fine Cooking Magazine October / November 2011

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