Esquire (UK) - - EATS -

For four Ev­ery once in a while, I will come across a sauce that is so suc­cess­ful and so tasty I tend to make it at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. This one started when my Vene­tian butcher be­gan dis­play­ing duck legs at a very rea­son­able price and I felt com­pelled to buy a few with­out much of an idea what to do with them. It turned out duck ragù is lo­cally tra­di­tional and, af­ter a few tweaks, this recipe pro­duced a most ef­fec­tive sauce. As with many Vene­tian meat dishes, the ad­di­tion of cin­na­mon gives it a dis­tinc­tive re­gional ac­cent. Ex­tra vir­gin olive oil

4 duck legs

2 large onions, finely chopped

1 large car­rot, finely chopped

1 large cel­ery stalk, finely chopped 1 clove of gar­lic, crushed

Flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pep­per

1 tbsp ground cin­na­mon

“00” flour

A glass of red wine

300ml passata

A 400g tin of chopped toma­toes

1 bay leaf

A small hand­ful of picked thyme leaves 250ml chicken stock

Whole milk

400g riga­toni

100g Parme­san, grated 1. Take a large, lid­ded, oven­proof saucepan. Heat a good glug of olive oil over a medium heat and fry the duck legs, turn­ing fre­quently, un­til brown on all sides, about 10mins. Re­move from the pan and set aside. 2. Add another glug of olive oil to the pan and pre­heat the oven to 150˚C/ gas 2. Sauté the onions, car­rot and cel­ery for around 10mins, un­til soft and glossy. Add the gar­lic and stir for a fur­ther minute. Re­turn the duck legs to the pan, add a good pinch or two of salt, a few twists of black pep­per, the cin­na­mon and a hand­ful of flour and stir.

3. Pour in the wine, al­low to bub­ble for a few min­utes, then add the passata, the toma­toes, the bay leaf and the thyme. Pour in the stock and turn the heat up a lit­tle. When the liq­uid boils, turn off the heat, cover the pan with the lid, and place in the oven.

Leave for 120mins, stir­ring just once, half­way through.

4. Re­move the pan from the oven, lo­cate the duck legs and care­fully lift them out. Dis­card the fat and bones, shred the meat with a knife and fork, and put the flesh back into the pan. Add a splash of milk and put on a low to medium heat to sim­mer gen­tly. 5. Bring a large pan of salted wa­ter to the boil and cook the riga­toni ac­cord­ing to the packet’s in­struc­tions. When done, re­serve a cup of the cook­ing wa­ter and drain the pasta. Add to the duck sauce, stir to coat com­pletely, loos­en­ing with a lit­tle of the re­served pasta wa­ter if it seems too dry.

6. Fi­nally, stir in the Parme­san and serve.

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