January 2, 2010

Duck Ragu

Yes! I've finally found it! THE BEST WAY TO COOK WILD DUCK! Braise the hell out of it in a robust tomato sauce!


After one of his big hunts this season, Jerad decided to clean & keep all the duck legs. Our first idea was to make confit. Then, I saw a recipe for duck ragu, which called for using legs, in Giada De Laurentiis's Everyday Pasta. This recipe was perfect for the skinless, bone-in legs I had. And, 3 hours of braising could only help the flavor & texture of the gamey wild birds.

This is BY FAR the best wild duck recipe I've eaten. The meat doesn't taste gamey AT ALL, and it's perfectly tender. While it's an easy recipe, it does simmer for a long time, so plan ahead (that way you won't be eating dinner at 10:00 pm like we did last night).

I ate the ragu over a bowl of creamy, herbed polenta. Jerad opted for spaghetti. Either way, it's pretty tasty!

Duck Ragu
adapted from Everyday Pasta

Makes 4-6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ducks legs, trimmed of excess fat & skin (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
salt & pepper
14-ounces crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy pot. Season the duck legs with salt & pepper, then dredge in flour. Sear the legs until browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. IF YOU ARE USING WILD DUCK LEGS, I suggest using 1/2 the amount of olive oil with a tablespoon or two of duck fat.
  • Turn the heat down to medium. In the same pan (adding more oil or duck fat if needed) saute the onions, celery, carrot, & garlic until soft. Add the wine & deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes, broth, thyme, oregano, & bay.
  • Add the duck legs to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low & simmer, covered for 1 hour & 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid & continue simmering for another 1 1/2 hours, again stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the duck legs from the pot & allow them to cool a bit. Shred the meat & return it to the sauce, discarding the bones & skin. Stir in the chopped parsely.
  • Season the ragu with salt & pepper. Serve over polenta or pasta, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Nice dish - I make a similar wild duck pasta sauce using legs and wings also. This is also one of the few good uses for coots, which are tasty but tough (and must be skinned). BTW, I'da gone with the polenta, too.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, check out the duck we made on New Year's Eve with cherries and port. I got frozen duck breasts at Whole Foods and this is a keeper - easy too.



TeaLady said...

Thanks for this one. I have some beautiful duck breasts in the freezer and whole ones too. Will have to try. Hubs usually makes a duck gumbo.