Drunken Duck Ragu

Duck Ragu with Gnocchi


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

This is a labour of love and a slow-cooked creation. Take your time when making the gnocchi, and remember it takes practice.

The nonas in Italy did not become pasta masters overnight.


Duck Ragu

  • 800 grams duck pieces
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 70 grams pancetta, roughly chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup pinot noir
  • 800 grams plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 2–3 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • ½ cup green olives, pitted
  • 1 handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped


  • about 8 large potatoes
  • ¼ cup coarse salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¾–1 cup flour


Preheat the oven to 120 °C.

In a large stovetop-to-oven casserole over medium to high heat, add the duck. You don’t need oil as the duck will release fat. Cook until golden brown, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Remove the duck and set aside. Pour off the fat from the casserole, saving about 1 tablespoon for later.

To the casserole, add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and pancetta. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the bay leaves and pinot noir and deglaze.

Return the duck to the casserole along with the tomatoes and stock. Season with the Chinese five spice and rosemary and top with the olives. Cover and bake in the oven for 4 hours, until the duck is tender. Remove the duck using tongs, then discard all the bones and shred the meat.

Return the liquid in the casserole to the stovetop and simmer for another 20 minutes, skimming any excess fat from the top. Return the shredded meat to the casserole and fold through.

When the ragu has about an hour left in the oven, start preparing the gnocchi. Adjust the oven temperature to 180 °C.

In a large saucepan, add the potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil for about 15 minutes. You should be able to pierce them with a fork but they should still be firm. Spread the coarse salt on a large roasting tray. Pop the potatoes on top of the salt and roast for 20 minutes. Cool for 10–15 minutes, then halve them, scoop out the insides, and then pass through a sieve or potato ricer. On a clean surface, form the sieved potato lightly together and make a well in the middle. Add the yolks, most of the Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg and lemon zest. Work together until combined.

Add the flour in stages until you are able to roll the gnocchi into sausages. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Gently use a fork to make indentations on the gnocchi pieces. This will help the sauce stick to it.

Poach the gnocchi in simmering salted water for 1–2 minutes until they float to the surface, then remove them. Do not boil them as they will break apart.

Once the gnocchi is ready, pop it in serving bowls and cover with the ragu. Top with the remaining Parmesan and a sprinkle of parsley and serve.