Hearty Duck Ragu with Pinot Noir, Walnuts & Pomegranate
- 3 each whole duck legs
- to taste salt & pepper
- 1 each Spanish (yellow) onion, diced
- 6 each garlic cloves, large, peeled
- 1 cup pinot noir
- 2cups chicken broth
- 3 each bay leaves
- 2 each carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 each celery, peeled and diced
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 pound potatoes, peeled & diced
- 1 cup white beans, cooked
- 2 Tablespoons walnut halves, toasted & rough chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or glaze)
Season the duck legs generously with salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Pat the legs dry, and place them skin side down in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Slowly cook them for approximately 10 minutes so the skin turns golden brown and some of the fat is rendered. Turn the legs and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove the duck from the pan and pour out the duck fat, leaving 1 or 2 tablespoons. Add the onions and garlic. Stir, cover and cook for 4 minutes.
Add the pinot noir and turn the heat to medium-high. Reduce the wine to 1/4 the original amount. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves, bring to a simmer and arrange the duck legs in a single layer (if possible) in the pan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer very slowly for one hour or until the duck legs are tender but not falling apart.
Gently remove the duck from the pan and place in it in the bottom of a glass baking dish.
Skim the excess fat from the top of the broth. At this point, the broth should have a great duck flavor. Add the carrots, celery, thyme, potatoes & white beans. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are fully cooked (15-20 minutes). Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Pour the broth and vegetables over the duck legs.
Ragu is best made earlier in the day or, even better, the day before. This allows the flavors to blossom. You should at least make this a few hours ahead for that same reason.
When it is time to serve, carefully remove the duck legs from the broth (which should have cooked down considerably) and pour/scrape all the ingredients (except the duck legs) into a sauce pot to reheat. Place the duck legs in a pre-heated 350 degree oven on a clean baking dish or pan and let the skin crisp (approximately 20-30 minutes).
Remove the thyme sprigs, spoon the ragu into pre-heated bowls, and place either a whole piece of duck leg or some of the meat of the leg in the center of each bowl. Drizzle each helping with extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses*. Sprinkle generously with toasted walnuts.
Enjoy this delicious fall/winter dish with a glass of Holdredge Pinot Noir!
* Pomegranate molasses is available in Middle Eastern markets and on-line. I usually make my own by placing pomegranate juice in a saucepan and reducing it to a glaze (it is a great condiment that will last a long time refrigerated. It is wonderful drizzled on grilled chicken or lamb, or added to a salad dressing).
**Optional Serving Suggestion: Serve over Pappardelle Pasta with a shaving of Pecorino Cheese over the top.