Recipe Testing: Braised Duck Ragu

I love the flavor of duck, but I’ve never prepared it at home, so I was excited to test Marzano Restaurant’s recipe of Braised Duck Ragu for the Tacoma Aroma: Savor the Flavor cookbook/guidebook!

Ingredients gathered

The recipe calls for Muscovy hindquarters. (Duck butts!) Except. Dave’s Meat & Produce only had whole ducks. Pekin ducks. Assured by “Dave” that it would be a fine substitution, I headed home with my pasture-raised Pekin.

As taught by Chef Jan Parker, I used the “mise en place” system to begin—gathering everything I’d need to prepare the recipe efficiently. And because the Ragu called for wine, I also filled a glass to sip from while I cooked. (That’s not part of Chef Jan’s training.)

Duck seasoned and seared, awaiting sauteed veggies

Moving on to the duck, I quickly realized why I should’ve searched harder for duck butts—they require less butchering. Growing up, I regularly watched as my mom cut a whole chicken into fryable pieces, although I’ve rarely performed the task myself. So my technique is…questionable. But emboldened by wine, and equipped with my kitchen shears, I managed to divide the duck into sections that would fit inside the roasting pan. Yay!

Caramelizing the veggies and mushrooms

The results?

My favorite taste-tester (my husband, who does not love duck as I do) described the flavor of the Duck Ragu favorably as “not overly gamy…kind of like dark turkey meat.”

Belatedly, I read about the difference between duck meats. While Pekin is described as tasting quintessentially like duck, Muscovy apparently tastes more like sirloin—a flavor my taste-tester would probably prefer. Next time, I’ll make sure to obtain the “proper” duck.

Duck covered with sauteed veggies, ready to go in the oven

And there will be a next time. Although my rendition of Braised Duck Ragu was not precisely what Chef Elisa intended, it was scrumptious, and not that difficult to prepare. The recipe produced quite a lot of Ragu, so we froze a portion and had it for various meals…atop pasta, polenta, mashed potatoes, and barley—we even used it as pizza sauce—all with tasty results!

Photographer Genevieve Denise and I will soon be visiting Marzano Restaurant to document the preparation of gnocchi, which is recommended by Chef Elisa to accompany the Duck Ragu. If you want to try the dish yourself—and see whether you agree that Muscovy tastes like sirloin—head over to Marzano and order the Gnocchi all’anatra!

Duckily yours,

Photos by Kris Hay
© 2019 Tacoma Aroma Flavor

© 2019 Tacoma Aroma Flavor

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