Pappardelle With Venetian Duck Ragu

November 27, 2019

back to recipes

SHARE ON facebook share link email share link

Pappardelle With Venetian Duck Ragu

Recipe and image from Fine Cooking

Lotus Farms recently harvested Pekin ducks and offered them at the market. I haven’t cooked duck in years, and so I seized the opportunity and bought two of them. I made ragu from this Fine Cooking recipe by Domenica Marchetti and served it at a dinner party for six, though I included the breasts along with the legs and thighs, yielding more than the estimated quart. Everyone had a robust appetite, and most of us had seconds. Even so, there was still a little left over. Perfect! I love leftovers.

The Recipe

Yield: 4 – 6 servings, about 1 quart of ragu


  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 skin-on, bone-in duck legs and thighs
  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
  • 1 fresh bay leaf or 1/2 dried
  • 1 cup dry Italian red wine, such as Valpolicella
  • 1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 lb. fresh pappardelle, preferably whole-wheat, or fettucine or spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the duck legs and thighs with salt and pepper and arrange them in the pot, skin side down.
  2. Sear until the skin is browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn the legs over and brown the other sides, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer the duck to a deep platter. Pour off all but about 1 Tbs. of the rendered fat and discard or save for another use.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium low. Put the celery, garlic, onion, carrot, sage, and bay leaf in the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, 7 to 8 minutes.
  5. Pour in the wine and increase the heat to high. Cook at a lively simmer for 1 minute and then reduce the heat to medium.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and 1/2 cup of the broth.
  7. Return the duck to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low or low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and simmer until the meat is fork-tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
  8. Remove the duck from the pot and set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, skim the excess fat from the top of the sauce with a large spoon. If the sauce seems thin, continue simmering until flavorful and thickened to a saucy consistency.
  9. Discard the duck skin and shred the meat. Add the shredded meat to the sauce, along with the other 1/2 cup of broth if the sauce seems too thick. Let the sauce simmer gently for 15 minutes; discard the garlic and bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. When ready to serve, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta until al dente – you want it to still have some bite because it will continue to cook a bit while you’re tossing it with the ragù.
  11. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water and then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot and toss it with some of the ragù, adding a little cooking water if it seems dry. Serve the pasta with more ragù spooned over the top, garnished with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, if you like.


The ragù can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat gently before tossing with pasta.

This locally inspired recipe is brought to you by Pam Walker. Pam is an avid home cook, writer, and local farm and food activist who is also a board member of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute. Thank you, Pam, for helping inspire us to use locally sourced ingredients!