Duck Ragu

I can’t believe I have not shared this recipe yet, considering how often we have it. Paired with homemade pasta (usually pappardelle) this is one of our favourite dinners. After trying this it’s hard to go back to using any other meat for a ragu, it’s that good.


  • A whole duck, about 2 kg
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 300 ml dry red wine
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (about 400 g)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 500 g pasta
  • Parmesan cheese, to serve

1. Begin by preparing the duck. You will need a very sharp knife, preferably a filleting type of knife with a flexible blade. (Alternatively you can use bought duck breasts, though not only is this far more expensive but you will not get the same flavour that you do from a whole bird). Firstly remove all the skin and any fatty chunks, taking care not to cut the flesh away. When you have skinned the bird cut off the wings, discard the tips, and keep the wing joints along with the duck neck. Next cut all the meat away from the carcass, making sure to get absolutely all of it. Then dice the meat into bite size pieces, leaving the wings and neck intact.

2. In a large casserole dish heat the olive oil on a medium to high heat. Fry the onions and bay leaves for about ten minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add the garlic, stir through and fry for a few more minutes. Next add the meat, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and turn the heat up. Brown the meat, stirring often. When the meat has browned add the wine, scraping up any crusty bits and de-glazing the pan. Cook until the alcohol has evaporated. Stir through the tomatoes, tomato paste, and vinegar and reduce to a simmer. Cook on low for an hour and a half, stirring from time to time.

3. After it has cooked for an hour and a half, taste for seasoning. Prepare the pasta according to the packet, and serve with the ragu. You can combine the pasta with the sauce in the one pot, or you can serve it separately.

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