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Food & Home

Pappardelle Duck Ragu

This recipe is a little salty—you can make it healthier (and much quicker), by seasoning the duck legs with salt and pepper and browning them in the Dutch Oven. We made ours the day before and left it overnight to let the flavors deepen.

1. In a big bowl, mix the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs with the salt and 5 or 6 coarse grinds of black pepper. In a shallow glass container or on a sheet pan, spread half of the mixture in a thin layer. Put the duck legs on the salt mixture, and cover them with the remaining mixture. Seal the container or cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight—at least 8 hours and up to 12.

2. Lay the rolled sheets of pasta on a floured surface and use a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife to cut them into ribbons 1 to ½ inches wide. If you’re using the pasta right away, cover it with a damp kitchen towel until you’re ready to drop it in the pot. If you’re not using it right away, lightly dust it with flour, layer it between pieces of parchment paper on a sheet pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

3. Remove the duck legs from the salt, rinse them, pat them dry, and let them come to room temperature.

4. Coat a big heavy-bottomed pot or a Dutch oven with olive oil and set it over medium-high heat. In batches, brown the ducks legs well on each side, 3 to 5 minutes per side, and then remove them from the pot and set them aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Lower the heat just a little and add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pot. Let them soften for a few minutes, and then add the wine and give everything a stir. Add the tomatoes—juice and all—and stir. Break the tomatoes up a little with a wooden spoon. Return the duck legs, with their juices, to the pot, cover, and let everything simmer for 2 hours or more. The duck is done when the meat easily comes off the bone when it’s prodded with a fork.

5. Turn off the heat, remove the duck legs from the pot, and let them sit until they’re cool enough to handle. Then shred the meat, keeping about half the skin and fat and discarding the rest along with the bones. Return the meat, fat, and skin (try the skin first;s ome people don’t like the texture. If you don’t, don’t add it) to the pot and set it over medium-low heat. Add the dark chocolate to the pot and stir. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

6. Put a large pot of heavily salted water on to boil, and put three or four shallow bowls for serving in a 200°F oven to warm.

7. Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil, add a big pinch of chili flakes, and set it over medium-low heat. Put the pappardelle in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Use tongs to transfer it from the pot to the sauté pan, and add a big splash of pasta water. Toss the pasta around a little and check the seasoning. Divide the pasta among the warmed shallow bowls and spoon ragu over each portion (there will be leftover ragu). Garnish with a few shavings of the cheese and a little parsley, and serve.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Roberta’s Cookbook.