A slowly simmered pot of duck ragu is an annual tradition in my household. It is usually tossed with homemade papparadelle or fettuccine, flecked with parsley and topped with a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese.
- 4 large duck legs, about 4 lbs total
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- A small handful dried porcini mushrooms, covered with hot water
- 4-5 Tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups chicken broth or whey (I happen to be making cheese)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Small piece of parmesan rind, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Enough fettuccine for 4 people
- Chopped parsley, to serve
- 1/2 cup grate parmesan cheese, to serve
Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Place the duck legs skin side down onto the hot surface. Allow the skin to sear and render some of its fat, about 4 minutes. Flip and sear the other side. Remove and set aside.
Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of fat and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook on medium until vegetables have softened.
Drain the porcini, chop and add along with the tomato paste to the veggies and stir through. Save the porcini water and strain through a sieve.
Add the porcini water, broth, wine, allspice, sage, thyme, bay leaves and rind to the pot and bring to a simmer. Return the duck legs as well as any accumulated juices to the pot, cover and simmer for 2-2.5 hours until very tender.
Fish out the rind and herbs and discard. Remove the legs to a plate and when cool enough to handle, strip the meat off the bones and shred into large chunks and return to the sauce discarding the bones and skins. Continue to simmer the sauce until the desired consistency is reached and adjust for seasoning. There might be some extra sauce and it freezes beautifully.
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Reserve about a cup to thin the sauce. Return the pasta to the pot and add enough sauce to coat the pasta (there will likely be more than enough sauce) and some of the pasta water if required. Add the parley and half the parmesan cheese, toss well.
Plate and sprinkle with more cheese.