Venetian duck ragu

Venetian duck ragu

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(72 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 30 mins


Serves 6
Cinnamon adds complexity to this slow-cooked pasta sauce, which goes perfectly with large tubular paccheri pasta, or ribbons of pappardelle

Nutrition and extra info

  • sauce only
  • Healthy

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal505
  • fat12g
  • saturates2g
  • carbs62g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre2g
  • protein30g
  • salt0.9g
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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 4 duck legs
  • 2 onions, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 250ml red wine
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chicken stock cube, made up to 250ml
  • 3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped



    Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar



    Honey and syrups made from concentrated fruit juice were the earliest known sweeteners. Today,…

  • 2 tbsp milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…

  • 600g paccheri or pappardelle pasta
  • parmesan, grated, to serve



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the duck legs and brown on all sides for about 10 mins. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 5 mins until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1 min, then stir in the cinnamon and flour and cook for a further min. Return the duck to the pan, add the wine, tomatoes, stock, herbs, sugar and seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hrs, stirring every now and then.

  2. Carefully lift the duck legs out of the sauce and place on a plate – they will be very tender so try not to lose any of the meat. Pull off and discard the fat, then shred the meat with 2 forks and discard the bones. Add the meat back to the sauce with the milk and simmer, uncovered, for a further 10-15 mins while you cook the pasta.

  3. Cook the pasta following pack instructions, then drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the ragu. Stir to coat all the pasta in the sauce and cook for 1 min more, adding a splash of cooking liquid if it looks dry. Serve with grated Parmesan, if you like.

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Comments, questions and tips

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16th Jun, 2020
This recipe is amazing, though not sure why someone said it wouldn’t work with duck breasts. I followed another user’s comment and removed the skin and fat and browned the duck breast first before following the recipe exactly. Takes forever but so so worth it!
10th May, 2020
I cooked it for two people only so I reduced the ingredients - used only two duck legs and the rest of ingredients I reduced by about 1/3 (except for only one can of chopped tomatoes) - got about 3 portions out of that. I cooked it covered for about 90 minutes, the duck was already done by then, meat came clean off the bone. During shredding and after that, I kept it simmering without the lid, the consistency was just right, didn't need to add pasta water or simmer it for longer than specified. Came out full of flavor, loved it, thank you.
11th Jan, 2020
This is the perfect warming winter dish. Absolutely love the flavour the cinnamon adds. It's so good that it's become a staple dish every Christmas for our family.
15th Dec, 2019
Disappointed. It just lacked the depth of flavour I was expecting. Sadly, I won't be making it again.
Mirae Harford
12th May, 2019
Great recipe. Easy and delicious. Following previous comments, I saved the duck skin, chopped them up, and fried with some garlic and panko breadcrumbs for sprinkling.
Milo Milo's picture
Milo Milo
6th May, 2019
Great dish. Easily 5 stars as it’s so simple but has a great result. The trick is to ensure the duck meat has fallen off the bottom of the legs in the pan naturally before you even consider taking them out to shred the meat. If the duck is not shredding easily, put it back in for more time as chewy duck will ruin the dish. I always drizzle with oil like the accompanying photo.
Barbora Hrozová's picture
Barbora Hrozová
9th Jan, 2019
This is my all time favourite dish- just can't get enough of it! Definitely worth the wait.
29th Oct, 2018
This is one of my favs. Not a weeknighter though! Takes too long, but a great Sunday afternoon simmer for the evening. Love cinnamon in meat dishes, and it works. Done this about 6-7 times now, and have never needed to add the extra pasta cooking liquid at the end.
Daniel Evans-Southall's picture
Daniel Evans-So...
14th Jul, 2018
Ignore the bad reviews, this recipe is delicious. A great dish for entertaining as the sauce can be prepared during the day and reheated and added to the pasta when required. Irrespective of its name and it's origins, this is one of my favorites and have made it many times.
5th Jun, 2018
Please, please, please! Stop this horror! Never mix chiken and duck, NEVER! And the origins of Pasta with duck ragù are not venetians!so don't caal this horror "venetian". Venice is on the water and the typical pasta is with seafood! Of course! Too difficult to understand?


Hariett Minister's picture
Hariett Minister
2nd May, 2020
Can I use duck breast?
lulu_grimes's picture
5th May, 2020
Hello Hariett, I'm afraid duck breast won't really work for this as the meat has a different texture and doesn't cook in the same way. Lulu
Preena Bajaria's picture
Preena Bajaria
7th Jan, 2019
How would I adapt this for a slow cooker?
goodfoodteam's picture
8th Jan, 2019
Thanks for your question. We'd suggest cooking up until the point where you've added the cinnamon and flour as above, then transferring everything to the slow cooker and cooking for 6 - 8 hours on Low. For more advice on how to adapt recipes for the slow cooker, check out this feature:
7th May, 2017
Hi there, which type of pan is most appropriate to cook this in - a sauce pan with a lid or a deep frying pan, also with a lid?
goodfoodteam's picture
9th May, 2017
Thanks for your question. We'd suggest a saucepan or a heavy-based pan with lid, although you may be able to fit it into a deep frying pan if that's all you have available.
16th Dec, 2015
Could I make this ahead and reheat it?
goodfoodteam's picture
18th Dec, 2015
Yes this will freeze for 2 months. Freeze just before you add the milk then carry on from there once thawed.
8th Oct, 2014
Can this Venetian duck be cooked in a slow oven
goodfoodteam's picture
28th Oct, 2014
Hi there, thanks for your question. Yes this recipe would work well in a slow cooker.
16th Jan, 2019
I slow cooked the duck in my slow cooker for 7 hours, it fell off the bone and was delicious. It made it a great deal easier for a quicker meal as the prep was done in 15 minutes in the morning. I did the same liquid but with 6 duck legs and froze a couple of batches as it made a large amount.
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