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Culinary School: Bigoli with Duck Ragu

Video Length: 11:32
Produced by: Sarah Breckenridge. Videography by Gary Junken and Mike Dobsevage. Edited by Mike Dobsevage. Food styling by Safaya Tork.

Bigoli with Duck Ragu In the Veneto region, near Venice, cooks make a thick, dense, whole-wheat noodle known as bigoli. They're served in a duck ragu, which is simmered with vegetables, hers, tomatoes, and marsala, so it has an amazingly rich flavor. Traditionally bigoli are made with a special machine called a bigolaro, which extrudes the dough through fat holes, but in this episode you'll learn how to get similar results with a meat grinder that attaches right to your stand mixer.

The sauce is a little more involved than most in this series, so you'll want to start it before you make your pasta. Begin by roasting a whole duck for the ragu: Season the duck with salt and pepper, tuck sprigs of thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves into the cavity, and tie the legs. Then prick the duck all over with a fork, and put it in a roasting pan. Roast the duck at 450°F, giving it a turn every 30 minutes or so, until the meat is fully cooked, about 1-1/2 hours.

While the duck is cooling, sauté 1 diced onion, 1 diced stalk of celery, and 1 diced carrot in olive oil until tender. Add 1 lb. ground duck breast, and cook until the meat is browned. Add 1/2 cup Marsala wine to the pan and cook until the liquid is almost all evaporated.

When the duck is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the carcass and shred it into small pieces. You can throw away the skin. Add the duck meat to the pan with the ground duck. Add some white wine and a can of plum tomatoes that you've chopped, along with their juices. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Season the ragu with 1 tsp. cinnamon, plus salt and pepper to taste, and then set it aside.

While the sauce simmers, you can start pasta. Just like regular pasta dough, it begins by cracking your eggs into your flour, but this time it's whole-wheat flour. After beating the eggs with a fork, add 3 Tbs. melted unsalted butter and 1/2 cup warm whole milk, plus a pinch of salt, and start working the flour into the liquids. Knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic and not at all sticky. It's important to get the texture just right on this dough because if it's too wet, it gets stuck in the grinder. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

After the dough has rested, divide it into 8 equal pieces. Knead each piece with a little extra flour. You want to set up your stand mixer with a meat grinder attachment, or you can use a manual meat grinder if you have one. No matter what you use, choose the grinding plate with the smallest holes. Put the dough through the grinder, on low speed. As the pasta comes out, cut the strands with scissors or a sharp knife every 6 inches. Put the pasta on a sheet pan dusted with flour.

When you're ready to cook your bigoli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the bigoli in the water, stir to make sure they don't clump together, and return to a boil. Because these noodles are so dense, they take a little longer to cook than most fresh pastas-about 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the duck ragu. When the bigoli is tender, drain it and toss immediately with the ragu. Garnish each serving with a little chopped parsley.

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