Duck Leg Ragu

Duck Leg Ragu
4.5 from 2 ratings
For a hearty cold-weather dinner, look no further than this rich ragu made with perfectly cooked pasta and duck leg braised in wine, broth, tomatoes, onions, carrots and celery. This recipe by Robin Mather appeared in the Chicago Tribune.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Duck leg ragu
Total time: 3.32 hours
  • 4 large (12-ounce) duck legs, or 6 smaller ones
  • coarse salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 2/3 cup dry red wine, divided use
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stems fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon bay leaves
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1 pound sturdy pasta, such as bucatini or cavatappi
  1. Trim excess fat from duck legs, and reserve for another use.
  2. Prick the skin on the legs all over with a fork, which will help the legs render their fat.
  3. Season the legs generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  5. When the pan is hot, add the duck legs and cook on each side until browned, working in batches if necessary.
  6. Remove duck legs and set aside.
  7. Pour off rendered duck fat, and reserve for another use.
  8. Deglaze the Dutch oven with about 2/3 cup of red wine, then add the olive oil.
  9. When the oil shimmers, add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, and carrot and celery are tender, about 15 minutes.
  10. Return duck legs to Dutch oven.
  11. Add remaining red wine, thyme, bay leaves, cinnamon, chicken stock and tomatoes.
  12. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover the Dutch oven and simmer until duck legs are extremely tender, about 2 hours.
  13. At this point, the braise may be cooled and refrigerated for up to two days.
  14. At serving time, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil for the pasta.
  15. While the water comes to a boil, skim as much fat as possible from the Dutch oven, then remove the duck legs from the braising liquid.
  16. Place the Dutch oven on medium heat and bring to a merry simmer.
  17. Stir in the heavy cream and red wine vinegar to taste; simmer while you strip the meat from the duck legs, 8 to 10 minutes. (Use your fingers to tear the duck meat into bite-size pieces.)
  18. Discard the skin and the bones, if you’re not saving the bones for stock.
  19. Return duck meat to Dutch oven to warm while the pasta cooks, reducing heat if necessary, so sauce doesn’t boil away.
  20. Follow package instructions for cooking the pasta.
  21. When it’s done, drain it and portion it among four plates or bowls.
  22. Divide the ragu among the four plates or bowls and serve immediately.