Duck Ragu

Photographer: Adam

As autumn brings cooler weather, some here in New Zealand tilt their head to the sky listening, and watching for feathers in flight. While most of us are preparing for the coming winter, many are busying themselves, setting out decoys and preparing their mai mai for the coming opening of duck shooting season. I remember as a young child, getting up early on opening morning donning my winter woollies and heading down to the pond with Uncle Shorty and his dog. Sitting in the mai mai, waiting for the right moment, watching my Uncle quietly raising the gun to his shoulder, hearing the shot, smelling the smoke is such a vivid memory.

Here’s a simple recipe to keep you warm inside this winter. Thanks to the shooters – that’s Wardy our local sales rep and his family


For the ragu
4 duck breasts approx 450g
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
4 rashers of strip bacon
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp rosemary finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 can of whole tomatoes drained and diced
1/2 cup of Red wine (I used Shiraz)
2 cups of chicken stock
4 medium sized mushrooms cut roughly into 6th
Good olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano

For the pasta
click here to see Emma’s fresh egg pasta post


I used a pressure cooker here but a slow cooker will work equally well. For the slow cooker, do all your frying in a heavy based fry pan. Deglaze with all liquids and pour into slow cooker. Pop the cooker on in the morning and when you get home in the evening, follow the recipe from step 4.
1. Heat oil and butter in heavy-based pan or pressure cooker, brown duck breasts on both sides and set aside on a plate.
2. Add onions, garlic and bacon to the pan, cook until onions soften. Add rosemary and bay leaves cook for a few minutes. Make a clearing in the centre of the pan and add the tomato paste, let it caramelize for a minute, and then deglaze pan with a good slosh of wine.
3. Put the browned duck breast back into the pan, add the diced tomatoes and chicken stock. Attach the lid to the pressure cooker, turn up the heat, pressurize the pot then turn the heat down and maintain pressure for 20 – 25 minutes, until duck meat is tender.
4. Tip the mixture into a heavy based pan, roughly break the duck breast up with two forks, add the mushrooms, and cook on a medium heat for a further 20 to 30 minutes to reduce the sauce a little. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook your pasta, drain and toss with some olive oil. Serve the duck ragu atop a portion of pasta with a drizzle of your favorite olive oil and some freshly grated Parmigiano.