February 13, 2013
A couple of years ago, my husband Peter and I were in Las Vegas. It was dinner time and we were starving because of the three-hour time difference in our normal eating routine. Like the other casinos, they had so many restaurants for us to choose from and most of them were unfamiliar to us. However, after some discussion, we decided on this little back hole italian restaurant. DOCG. Remember the name and if you are ever at the Cosmopolitan, make sure you go. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to order because for an italian restaurant it was a little avant-garde for me. But I thought, take a chance. Isn’t that what Vegas is all about? So, at the waitress’ suggestion, I decided to try the duck ragu. Wow….my meal turned out to be the winner of the evening!
Well, fast forward to this past weekend and what do I find in my recipe collection but one for duck ragu? And conveniently enough, I had duck legs in my freezer that I had intended for something else. It was kizmit! Forces had come together to bring back my Vegas dinner. I was going down memory lane. (I am seriously starting to sound a little corny!)
My husband was a little skeptical. Ok, maybe not skeptical….maybe scared and horrified that I would actually consider making this for dinner. That moment when he realizes this is his only option for a real meal, trepidation written all over his face……it’s priceless. .But I think it was winner winner chicken dinner (or duck in this case)! He loved it. And I believe you will too. I would even recommend making this the night before and letting the flavors meld a little more…..amazingly flavorful.
So, once in a while, take a chance. Try something new. You might find that you’ve hit the jackpot.
I hope you enjoy this recipe inspired by Fine Cooking.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 skin on, bone in duck legs and/or thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 fresh bay leaf or 1/2 dried
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 to 1 cup lower salt chicken broth
Heat oil in a 5-6 quart dutch oven over medium high heat. Season both sides of the duck legs or thighs with the salt and pepper and arrange them in a pot, skin side down. Sear until the skin is browned and crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using tongs turn the legs over and brown the other side for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the duck to a deep platter. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat and discard or save for another use.
Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the celery, garlic, onion, carrot, sage and bay leaf to the the fat and cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables are softened 7-8 minutes.
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. Stir in the tomatoes and juice and 1 cup of the broth. Return the duck to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low (to maintain a gentle simmer). Cover the pot and simmer until the meat is fork-tender. 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Remove the duck from the pot and set aside to 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.
Discard the duck skin and shred the meat. Add the shredded meat to the sauce, along with 1/2 cup of pasta water or chicken broth if the sauce seems too thick. Let the sauce simmer gently for 15 minutes, discarding the bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with cooked pasta and grated cheese, if you like.
This can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.