This dish is the perfect way to get cosy on a dark, autumnal evening. Perch at the dining table with a steaming bowl of silky pappardelle pasta, lusciously coated with a rich duck and red wine sauce. Like any ragù, its flavours develop gradually as you simmer it for a couple of hours and the meat within becomes even more tender, best cooked on a grey, drizzly weekend when there's not much else to do but wrap up in a blanket, drink wine and cook with it too.
I'd recommend cooking this in a cast iron pot if you have one, so the meat tenderizes slowly and beautifully. You can also make this a day ahead when convenient, then serve with dried or fresh pasta and a healthy glass of red wine. The duck pairs wonderfully with a Pinot Noir as it's not too bold and complements the touch of cinnamon (Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir is my favourite).
INGREDIENTS (Serves 6)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 duck legs
2 onions, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp plain flour
250ml red wine
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 organic chicken stock cube, made up to 250ml
3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
3 thyme sprigs, left whole
2 bay leaves
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp milk
600g paccheri or pappardelle pasta
parmesan, grated, to serve
Heat the oil in your cast iron pot or heavy-bottomed saucepan (with lid). Add the duck legs and brown on all sides for about 10 mins. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan and cook for 5 mins until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 min, then stir in the cinnamon and flour and cook for a further min. Return the duck to the pan, add the wine, tomatoes, stock, herbs, sugar and seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hrs, stirring every now and then.
Cook the pasta following pack instructions, then drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the ragu. Stir to coat all the pasta in the sauce and cook for 1 min more, adding a splash of cooking liquid if it looks dry. Serve with grated Parmesan, if you like.r, uncovered, for a further 10-15 mins while you cook the pasta. Carefully remove the whole sprigs of thyme and the bay leaves.
Cook the pasta following pack instructions, then drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the ragu. Stir to coat all the pasta in the sauce and cook for 1 min more, adding a splash of cooking liquid if it looks dry. Serve with grated Parmesan.