Duck ragu with paccheri pasta is the epitome of comfort food. Juicy duck meat, slow braised in a rich tomato and red wine sauce, and nestled in perfectly cooked paccheri pasta is so comforting and delicious. Thank you to FarmToFork™ Pasta Sauces for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Beyond Sweet and Savory possible.
From fall to winter, I gravitate toward comfort food and find myself making a lot of braises and roasts. One dish that I return to often is ragu. I’m so excited to partner with FarmToFork™ Pasta Sauce to share the recipe for one of our favorite pasta dishes ever: duck ragu with paccheri pasta.
My pantry is rarely without a jar of pasta sauce, and FarmToFork™ is my go-to. FarmToFork™ has a line of super premium pasta sauces, with the Caramelized Onion & Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce being one of my favorites. These pasta sauces are loaded with sustainably grown tomatoes from two family-owned farms: Casaca Vineyards and Worth Farms in the heart of California. I love how these pasta sauces are made with 10 ingredients or less, with fresh additions of garlic, onions, basil, and spices. They are also non-GMO and contain no tomato paste, no added sugars, and no artificial colors or flavors.
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Just like a traditional ragu, this duck ragu starts out on the stove where you’ll brown the duck legs. Browning creates a tremendous amount of flavors that will add to the final dish. While some people use the term browning and caramelizing interchangeably, they actually mean different things. Caramelizing involves just sugar (ie. in a creme brulee). The chemical reactions that take place allow for sugar to be heated until its molecules break apart and create complex, caramelized flavors. You can find a thorough explanation here.
With browning, aka the Maillard reaction, the process involves the reactions between heat, sugar, protein, and the breakdown of proteins into amino acids. Meat cooked this way creates an attractive golden appearance and incredible depth of flavor. The meat needs to be cooked in a nice dry environment to reach at least 250 degree F, so make sure to pat meat dry with a paper towel before placing it in a hot pan, and don’t overcrowd the pan, which can cause too much moisture to accumulate.
Once the duck legs are browned, remove them from the pan. Stuck at the bottom of the pan are brown bits called fond, which is the delicious foundation of a delicious sauce. Reserve about one tablespoon of liquid, discard the excess fat, and return the pan to the heat. Add the chopped carrot, fennel, shallot, and garlic, and saute until soft and fragrant.
Once the vegetables and alliums are semi-cooked, pour the FarmToFork™ Pasta Sauce, red wine, porcini, and soaking water into the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen all of those brown bits. Add the duck legs back in and let it simmer for a few minutes. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook in the oven for 90 minutes until the duck is tender. Nothing is better than the smells that will soon be coming from your kitchen!
By the time the ragù has finished cooking, the meat should be falling off the bone. Just remove and discard the skin and bones, shred the meat, and toss it back into the sauce. Some people prefer their ragu chunky, while others lean toward puree. I like mine somewhere in the middle.
I used an immersion blender and blended half the sauce so the ragu had a smoother consistency while retaining some chunks of veggies. Puréeing the sauce also emulsified the duck fat and added an irreplaceable element of richness to the ragu. I transferred the shredded duck meat back into the sauce and tossed the paccheri pasta in. If you have a hard time finding paccheri pasta, pappardelle, rigatoni, or any pasta with large surface area would be a good alternative. Polenta or gnocchi would also pair well with the ragu. Generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese and basil leaves added the finishing touch. Dinner is set.
A certain magic happened as the duck, vegetables, alliums, porcini, wine, and FarmToFork™ Pasta Sauce slowly cooked in the oven. Juicy duck meat that’s slow braised in a rich tomato and red wine sauce and nestled in perfectly cooked, tubular paccheri pasta is so comforting and delicious.
This recipe feeds eight, so chances are you’ll have some leftovers if you’re cooking for a small family. Leftovers are even better the next day as the flavors of the ragu have more time to develop. If there’s only a handful of ragu recipes that you ever need in your life, this is one of them. This duck ragu with paccheri pasta will carry you from fall to winter, from feeding a small family a large gathering, and will become a permanent specialty in your pasta arsenal.
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Duck ragu with paccheri pasta
- Immersion blender
- 1/4 cup chopped, dried porchini mushrooms
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 4 duck legs
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 small shallots, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 fennel bulb (white part only), sliced then chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 jar of FarmToFork™ Caramelized Onion & Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
- 1 lb paccheri pasta
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
- 1/2 cup basil leaves for serving
- Place the porcini and boiling water in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to soak.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Heat a large ovenproof heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
- Sprinkle the duck with salt and pepper, and cook in batches skin-side down for 5 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Drain the fat, reserving 1 tablespoon in the pan. Return to medium heat and add the shallot, garlic, carrot, and fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until fragrant and softened.
- Add the pasta sauce, wine, porcini, and soaking water. Stir to combine.
- Return the duck to the pan, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and bring to a simmer.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 1½ hours or until the duck is tender.
- Remove the duck from the sauce and allow to cool slightly.
- Using 2 forks, shred the meat, discard the bones and skin, and return meat to the sauce. Stir to combine, set aside, and keep warm.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes until al dente or cook according to packet instructions.
- Drain, add pasta to the ragu, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the pasta among warmed plates.
- Sprinkle with basil leaves and freshly grated Parmesan to serve.