Bigoli with duck ragu.

The Bigolaro.

This is a bigolaro, a pasta press for extruding a thick wholemeal spaghetti.  The dough goes in the ‘Torchi’ and by cranking the handle is pushed through a bronze die to make either spaghetti or rigatoni which in the Venitian region is called bigoli and gargati respectively. And what fun it is when friends come over.

The dies, gargati in front and the one at the back makes the bigoli.

And the reason I have a bigoli press? To make Bigoli con l’Anatra, Bigoli with duck. Back in 1875 when the hand press was first patented the dish would have been different to what I have cooked for my friends. The duck is cooked in the same way, poached in water with stock vegetables and herbs. Then the pasta is cooked in the stock, that is made from cooking the duck. This step is essential. Traditionally the pasta would then be served as a first course with the ducks liver minced and cooked in butter with sage and served with parmesan. The duck would be eaten as the second course with a sauce such as paera or mustard fruits.

I cook the pasta in the stock and make a tomato and wine ragu using more of the stock and adding the chopped liver and duck meat at the end which is moist, tender and ducklicious. Roasted radicchio is a perfect partner and a local staple to Veneto.

A pear and rocket salad is served on the side, dressed with walnut oil and pecorino.


For the duck: 1 duck, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, 1 small leek, the vegetables all chopped roughly for stock, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp whole black peppercorns. In a large stock pot add all the ingredients and cover the duck with cold water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, skim off the foam and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until the duck is very tender and coming away from the bones easily.

For the pasta: 150g wholemeal flour, 150g buckwheat or ’00’ flour, 2 eggs (60g) 1/2 cup warm milk. Mix as you would a normal egg pasta dough but only knead to bring the ingredients together. Add more wholemeal flour if the dough feels too sticky. Rest in the fridge 1/2 hour.


For the sauce: 2 tblsp olive oil, 2 small onions, 1cm thick slice of mild pancetta, 2 cloves garlic, 1 stalk celery, 1 small leek, 1 carrot, 2 bay leaves, 1 cup red wine, 2 cups duck stock (from the pot with the duck in it), 3 cups tomatoes (peeled and chopped) or 2 tins chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper.

Chop all the vegetables, garlic and pancetta into a small dice and fry in the olive oil for 10 minutes. Add the bay leaves and red wine, let the alcohol boil off. Add the stock and tomatoes and simmer 1/2 an hour, adding more stock if needed. Check for seasoning. I used beautiful ripe tomatoes from my parents garden which made the sauce so amazingly sweet and delicious but if you have to use tinned you may need a bit of sugar and salt and pepper to season.

If you are adding duck liver, fry it in butter until still pink, chop finely and add to the sauce. When the duck is ready take the meat off the bones and shred, then add to the sauce. Strain the stock and skim off the fat. The duck can be cooked a day ahead, if you do this, strain the stock and refrigerate overnight to make the fat removal easier. Put the duck stock back into a stock pot and bring to the boil when you are ready to cook the pasta.

Pick through the bones for any tasty duck bits.


And now for the bigoli:


Dust the bigoli with the wholemeal flour as it comes out of the press so it does not stick together.

On the off chance you do not have a bigoli press you can make some fresh egg pasta, roll through a normal pasta machine and cut into linguine or fettucine, or use a good quality dried pasta. Cook the bigoli in the duck stock, toss through the sauce and serve with pecorino or parmigiano reggiano.


8 thoughts on “Bigoli with duck ragu.

  1. This is super amazing.., how could I not have heard of this magical piece of equipment., where does one buy one Lucy? I must track one down & buy it even if its just to make this amazing recipe. Another excellent post 🙂

    • Anna, I e-mailed the company in Italy that manufacture the press, Bottene, and they wrote back that someone in Adelaide sells them, this guy also sells electric pasta machines and wood ovens, Al forno I think it is. He knew my shop in the market and the next day brought me my very own bigolaro (for about $200 give or take, probably give). Good luck, I hope you succeed as it is such a good party trick. Lucy

  2. Well I did enjoy nibbling on those bones a lot! The best bits to be honest. And it was such a lovely day.

    I’m in the duck mood, and it’s all your fault, Lucy. Made the Ethopian duck stew today using your spices, and followed your recipe on the blog by using my iPad while Graham put together IKEA shelves in our dining room. Figuratively speaking, your dish was supported by Apple Inc.


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