Perhaps our favorite recipe from My Father’s Daughter, this duck ragu is a dish you’ll crave and make time and time again.
1 organic large duck, washed and dried
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
4 slices duck bacon, finely diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 medium stalks celery, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 5-inch sprigs fresh rosemary, stems discarded and leaves finely minced
3 14-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1 cup italian red wine
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound pappardelle (fresh or dried)
Gremolata Bread Crumbs or freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Trim off excess skin from the opening to the duck’s cavity and back end. Rub the entire duck with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, inside and out.
3. Roast it for a total of 2 hours, flipping it from its back to its breast (and vice versa) every 1/2 hour. Let it cool in the pan until you can handle it. Drain off the fat and either discard or reserve it for another use, such as roasting potatoes.
4. While the duck is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the duck bacon. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until starting to crisp.
5. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and rosemary. Turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, or until softened.
6. Add the tomatoes and their juice and put 1/2 cup water into one can, swish it around to get all the tomato stuck to the sides, pour into the next can, and repeat again with the third. Add the tomato water to the Dutch oven along with the wine, a good grind of pepper, and a healthy pinch of salt.
7. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down very low and let simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
8. After the duck has cooled down a bit, remove and discard the skin and bones and shred the meat.
9. Fold the duck meat into the ragu along with the tomato paste and cook on very low heat, uncovered, for at least 1 hour (and up to 4), adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from drying out (continue to season with salt and pepper as you splash).
10. To serve, cook the pasta, divide it among bowls, and spoon a generous amount of duck ragu over the pasta. Top with the Gremolata Bread Crumbs and or Parmesan.
These are a real hit with kids, and pretty fun for adults, too. The filling is not exactly for novices (it takes several steps—one of which involves making Italian meringue), so if that's out of the question, just make or buy your favorite simple frosting.