Play Hard

Mid-week meal: Duck Ragu

Low-and-slow cooked duck over ribbons of pappardelle… Dotty in the Kitchen shares a recipe we already know we’ll be making all winter

Written by High Life North
Published 24.11.2020

By Dotty Miles

This ragu is an excellent alternative to a Bolognese when you fancy a big, meaty pasta dish, and brings a little more flair than your traditional beef ragu. Duck can be perceived as difficult to cook, but this recipe needs almost no intervention as we cook it low and slow until the meat falls off the bone.

Serves two


  • 2 duck legs
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large sprig rosemary
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • 70ml red wine
  • 1 beef stock pot
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 200g pappardelle or rigatoni
  • Parmesan to serve


  1. Place a casserole pot over a medium/high heat and add the duck legs, skin side down. Brown the legs all over, turning them after 5 minutes. As they brown, they should begin to release some of their fat.
  2. Once golden on both sides, remove the duck legs and put them on a plate to rest. Turn down the heat. There should be a good amount of fat left in the pan. If there isn’t, add a splash of olive oil.
  3. Add the diced onion, carrot and celery to the pan with around 1/4 tsp salt and sweat down for around 7 minutes, until it begins to look soft and glossy. Stir occasionally to ensure they don’t catch.
  4. Add the bay leaves and rosemary, along with the tomato puree, and cook for a further 2 minutes, mixing thoroughly to disperse the puree.
  1. Increase the heat to full, then pour in the wine and allow it to bubble rapidly for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the duck legs back in the pan, then throw in the stock cube and add enough water to just cover the duck legs. (The exact quantity will depend on the size of your pan). Season with black pepper.
  3. Allow the stew to come up to the boil, then pop the lid on and turn it down to a gentle simmer on a small hob ring. Let the stew bubble away gently for 1.5–2 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.
  4. Once your duck legs are tender, remove from the sauce. Allow them to cool slightly before stripping the meat from the bones. Discard the skin, the bones and any cartilage. Cover the shredded meat with a piece of tin foil to keep warm.
  5. Meanwhile, turn the heat up under the sauce to high and bring it to the boil. Let the sauce bubble with the lid off until it reduces to the consistency of good gravy. Once this consistency is reached, taste and add more pepper and salt if necessary.
  6. Place a large pan of salted water on to come to a rolling boil for the pasta.
  7. Drop the pasta into the water and boil it for 10 minutes. Use tongs to pull the pasta out of the water and into your pan of bubbling sauce. Add the shredded duck and stir everything to combine.
  8. Turn the heat down under your sauce and pop the lid on for a further 2 minutes. This finishes off cooking the pasta and helps everything come together.
  9. Spoon generously into bowls with a shower of parmesan over the top.
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