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Duck Ragu

One year I was given a birthday present I'll never forget -- a cooking lesson from Jamie Oliver. He came over and showed me how to make one of my favourite and most sentimental dishes, duck ragu. His recipe had more of a Moroccan bent, with raisins and oranges, and it was magical. Over the years, the recipe has become its own thing in my kitchen, but the roasting technique is all Jamie.

I think this may just be my favourite recipe in the whole book. The gremolata topping, while optional, takes it to another level.

you will need

1 organic large duck, washed and dried

3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

Coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 slices duck bacon (or whatever bacon you love), finely diced

1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced

2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced

2 medium stalks celery, finely diced

5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems discarded and leaves finely chopped

3 400g cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice

250ml Italian red wine

100ml tomato purée

450g pappardelle (fresh or dried)

Gremolata breadcrumbs or freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Trim off excess skin from the opening to the duck's cavity and from the back end. Rub the entire duck with one tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, inside and out.

Roast it for a total of two hours, flipping it from its back to its breast (and vice versa) every half hour. Let it cool in the pan until you can handle it. Drain off the fat and either discard it or reserve for another use, such as roasting potatoes.

While the duck is roasting, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally, or until starting to crisp. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic and rosemary, turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until softened.

Add the tomatoes and their juice and put 125ml water into one can, swish it around to get all the tomato stuck to the sides, pour into the next can and repeat again with the third. Add the tomato water to the casserole along with the wine, a good grind of pepper and a healthy pinch of salt.

Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down very low and let it simmer for one hour and 15 minutes.

After the duck has cooled down a bit, remove and discard the skin and bones and shred the meat. Fold the duck meat into the ragu along with the tomato purée and cook on a very low heat, uncovered, for at least one hour and up to four, adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from drying out (continue to season with salt and pepper as you splash).

To serve, cook the pasta, divide it between bowls and spoon a generous amount of duck ragu over the pasta.

Top with the Gremolata breadcrumbs or Parmesan.

Weekend Magazine