Untypically Elaborate Sweet And Sour Duck Ragú Italian Style

… which is definitely worth the effort for a special occasion. Yes, it requires you to deal with a whole duck and yes, you’ll have to stick your hands inside it at one point. Sorry about this. I recommend getting a sous chef who has to do it for you.

duck pasta sauce

This is a perfect transitional dish, easing you into fall. Last of summer’s tomatoes (I know I ask you to use tinned, but use your imagination here) combined with the richness of roasted duck that always feels autumney to me make this a perfect October dish.

Very slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver:

Fill a washed duck with a quartered organic orange. (Yes, you need to wash it inside and out first – believe me, this is the low point, it’s all uphill from here on.)

Rub its skin with olive oil and salt and pepper generously. Put it breast side down into a baking tray and stick into the oven for two hours at 200°C, turning it every half hour.

In the meantime, prepare the base for the ragù: Finely chop a red onion, two celery sticks, a big handful of rosemary, grate a carrot and slice four garlic cloves. Take a big(!) pan, put it on medium heat and throw half a handful chopped bacon in, letting it release its fat for a minute, then add the veggies, rosemary, a cinnamon stick and if needed, supplement the bacon fat with a glug of olive oil. Let the veggies brown a bit, then add two cans of whole tinned tomatoes, a small handful raisins and half a bottle of fruity red wine (I went with Jamie’s recommendation of Valpolicella, very good). Let the sauce simmer for half an hour, uncovered at first, then half-covered with a lid to achieve a good sauce-like consistency.

When the duck is done, DO NOT discard the duck fat that has pooled in the tray. Pour it into a box and stick in the fridge where it’ll turn into a sort of solid block. Use for roasting veggies or for baked potatoes, or just spread it on a slice of toasted bread and sprinkle with salt.

PUll the meat off the duck carcass (I gobbled up all the delicious, crispy skin while doing so, completely disregarding the fact that each bite is approx. 60000 kcal), tear into smallish flakes and throw into the sauce. Jamie says to let the now duck enriched sauce simmer for another half an hour to let the flavours come together, if like me you are at this point too hungry to do so, don’t bother, it’ll be delish either way. Prepare your pasta (I used pici, which are basically really fat spaghetti which I find totally endearing).

Take the orange out of the duck’s cavity, squeeze its juice into the sauce, add some lemon juice or vinegar if you like and tadah!

Your project work is ready to be handed in to the jurors (this will feed 4, or 2 with leftovers). Serve with fresh parsley and parmesan shavings for extra points.

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