Decadent Duck Ragu
Cook Time 2 hours 50 minutes
4 duck legs, brought to room temperature
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, grated
2 celery stalks, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 sage sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp tomato paste
375ml white wine (chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)
Small handful of dried porcini mushrooms (about 30g),
rehydrated in 375 ml warm water for 10 minutes
6cm strip of orange zest
1 x 400g can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
500ml chicken stock
4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, finely chopped
Pappardelle, baked rice or mashed potato, to serve
Freshly grated parmesan, to serve
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Season the duck with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy-based ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat, add the duck legs, skin-side down, and cook for 10 minutes until the fat starts to render. Turn and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Remove the legs from the pan and drain most of the fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon. (Don’t discard the fat; pour it into a jar and save for roasting crispy potatoes. It will last in the fridge for 3–4 months.) Return the pan to medium heat, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, sage, bay leaves and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring regularly, for 8–10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1–2 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir to deglaze, then cook off the alcohol for 2–3 minutes.
Squeeze out the excess water from the mushrooms, reserve the soaking liquid and roughly chop the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the pan along with the orange zest and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then return the duck legs to the pan. Add the stock and reserved porcini liquid, leaving the sediment at the bottom of the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and place a piece of baking paper cut to fit on top. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2 hours until the meat is falling off the bone.
Remove from the oven and cool a little before shredding the meat from the bones. Discard the bones and skin and set the shredded meat aside. If oil has risen to the surface of the sauce, skim off, then discard the herbs. The sauce should be rich and thick. If it is a little thin, simply bring to the boil on the stovetop for 5–6 minutes. Return the reserved duck meat to the pan and stir in the parsley. Serve with pappardelle, baked rice or mashed potato and add a sprinkle of parmesan to finish.