Fast and Easy Duck Breast Ragu

By using leftover duck breast, from a duck roasted back in February, I cut down on some of the cooking and preparation time for this dish. And it ended up being a very economical meal, as one large duck breast made enough ragu for three servings.

Duck Breast Ragu

Duck Breast Ragu – serves 3

300 gm dried fettuccine or spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

NOTE: For a low/no-carb version, substitute well drained/squeezed spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles or cauli-rice for the pasta.

1 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil
1 large leftover duck breast
1/2 cup (1 medium) onion, finely diced
1/2 cup (1 medium) carrot, finely diced
1/2 cup (1 stalk) celery, finely diced
1 cup crushed tomatoes*
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 dried bay leaf
1-2 fresh sage leaves, or 1 large dried sage leaf
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp apple cider vinegar**
2-3 cups of water, divided
salt and pepper to taste
~1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

* About a cup of tomato products may be used in the ragu. ie. 2 large fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced or 1 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with liquid, 1 cup marinara sauce or 1 cup of crushed tomatoes. For an extra hit of tomato, add a tablespoon of tomato paste as well.

** In place of 1/4 cup of white wine, I added the apple cider vinegar to the chicken stock

If your duck breast was frozen on the bone, remove it and cut the breast in half horizontally, to minimize the thickness of the breast, and reduce cooking time.

In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic until the vegetables are softened and the onion is transparent. Add the crushed tomatoes (start with the tomato paste first, if using, and cook a couple of minutes to bring out the maximum flavour) and then add the chicken stock and apple cider vinegar scraping the bottom to free up any bits stuck to the pan.

Add the dried bay leaf, the sage leaves and the duck meat, including the bones that the breast was attached to for extra flavour.


Add another cup of water, or as much as is needed to cover the meat. Add about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp of ground black pepper. The amount of salt added depends on how salty your chicken stock was. Remember, the liquid will reduce so go easy on the salt. Bring the contents to a boil, cover and then reduce the heat so that the ragu mixture is just simmering. Simmer for one hour, checking after half an hour and then every 15 minutes to make sure that there’s still some liquid left. Stir to prevent sticking as the contents reduce. Add more water if need.

After one hour, test to see if the meat is tender enough to be shredded. If it is, remove to a shallow bowl, shred, and then return the meat to the saute pan. Discard the bones. (If there was any meat left on the breast bone and ribs, pick them off and return to the saute pan … or eat it. It’s the cook’s treat.) If not, simmer for another 10-15 min and check again, adding more water if needed.

NOTE: Bring a pot of water to the boil, season with a generous tablespoon of salt and cook your pasta, until it still has a bit of a bite to it (al dente). Drain, rinse with cold water, return to the pasta pot and cover.

Continue cooking the ragu, with the lid off, until it’s as thick as you like. Taste for salt and pepper level.

Add the reserved cooked pasta to the ragu, stir through and serve.

Garnish with a teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese.


19 thoughts on “Fast and Easy Duck Breast Ragu

      1. Thank you for the comment. It let me think outside the box myself and put a note on the post for other people who want to cut back on their carb intake.

  1. This totally works with zoodles (zucchini noodles). I just made a similar ragu but with chicken breast for Passover, and Now I wish I had duck breast – so much more flavourful!

      1. I don’t have one (too old to buy kitchen toys that I’m not going to use a lot) but if I LIKED zucchini, I’d consider using the vegetable peeler. πŸ™‚

      2. Ah, so it’s a matter of taste. I am guessing that you are younger than I, and I am always 18, so what are you – 15? My son got me a zoodle machine for my birthday last year, and the grandkids love playing with it. it could – and should! – be used with other veggies and fruit as well, not only zucchini.

      3. Even though I still think of myself as being around 34-35 … I’m 62 and still don’t use the chopping/shredding discs of my food processor so buying something that turns zucchini (meh!) into noodles doesn’t really excite me. I make home made pasta noodles/lasagna sheet for fun and use a pasta machine to roll them out. Simplicity … if possible, is my watchword. πŸ™‚

      4. Oh, you are not even 15! If I am 18, you are 14.
        We try to avoid gluten and carbs, even though we love pasta, so veggie noodles – not only zucchini! – are perfect for us. But I do envy you, in a good way!

  2. This sounds like it might have been better than the original duck! A high school friend used to say “just ducky” whenever anyone asked her how she was…now that prhase is running through my mind!

    1. The original duck was very tasty, served with mashed potatoes, duck gravy and veggies of choice. I just wanted to switch things up a bit. Duck gumbo, poutine, hot and sour soup, fried rice … so many great things to do with the leftovers. πŸ™‚

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