Duck ragù with bigoli

Valeria's duck ragù recipe is served with beautiful bigoli pasta, a speciality of Vicenza and Padua. Ask your butcher to make the duck mince so that that include all of the tasty fat and skin. This recipe is taken from Veneto: Recipes From an Italian Country Kitchen by Valeria Necchio, published by Faber & Faber. Photography by Valeria Necchio.

First published in 2017
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Bigoli (Bigoi in dialect) is long pasta that is typical of Veneto. Depending on the area, it can be fresh or dry, wholemeal or white. People who owned a bigolaro (the specific pasta press used to extrude bigoli) used to make it at home; those living in the city would have had access to fresh bigoli from the deli. The rest had to make do with the dry version.

Bigoli con l'anara (with duck ragù) is a speciality of Vicenza and Padua. In Venice and thereabouts, one would be more likely to see this ragù spooned over a bowl of potato gnocchi or gnocchetti. Both are delightful, but for once, I betray my province of origin and favour Vicenza's version, mostly because I have eaten it so many times over day trips across the region and around the Colli Berici that it has become part of my culinary education.

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

Duck ragù

  • 500g of minced duck, including fat and skin (ideally from Barbary or Muscovy duck)
  • 2 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 240ml of dry white wine
  • 480ml of duck stock, or vegetable stock
  • 2 juniper berries
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground

To serve

Method

1
To make the duck ragù, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan set over a medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and rosemary and allow them to infuse in the oil for a couple of minutes, stirring often
2
Next, add the duck mince and increase to a medium-high heat. Cook for 4–5 minutes, until evenly browned; season generously
3
Pour in the wine and stock and add the juniper berries. Bring everything to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid
4
Cook the ragù for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding a little stock if the ragù becomes too dry
5
Once the liquid has reduced completely and only and oily sauce remains, remove from the heat and discard the rosemary, juniper and garlic. Cover and keep warm
6
Finally, bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Lower in the bigoli and cook for 5–6 minutes if fresh, about 10 minutes if dry (the exact time will depend on the type of pasta, try to keep it al dente)
7
Meanwhile, set the ragù back over a medium heat. When the pasta is ready, drain and top it with the meat sauce and half of the grated Parmesan. Toss until any water has been absorbed and the pasta is evenly seasoned. Serve along side the rest of the grated Parmesan

Discover more about this region's cuisine:

Valeria Necchio is an Italian food writer and photographer with roots in the Venetian countryside.

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