Duck, Sausage, and Chestnut Stew from the North of Italy

This duck, sausage, and chestnut stew from the province of Verona, also called ragù d’anitra, is often made with goose and is made too in Brianza in Lombardy and around Lake Garda. Preparing this dish is a more or less all-day affair.  Don’t let that put you off.  Gather around the hearth and keep the kitchen warm on a blustery fall or winter Sunday.  My recipe is adapted from one by Luigi Carnacina, an Italian chef of the mid-twentieth century who is thought of by many as the Escoffier of Italy.  The sausage used in the dish, luganega, is a very simple and relatively plain thin sausage made in a variety of ways in Lombardy and the Veneto.  You can replace it with a mild Italian sausage or a fresh garlic sausage. Follow the links for recipes for the chicken broth and the tomato sauce called for in the recipe if you don’t have your own.

Cassola d'Anatra
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Stew
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
  • ¼ cup chopped duck fat, removed from the duck
  • ½ cup diced salt pork, parboiled for 15 minutes
  • One 5-pound duck, as much fat removed as possible, cut into 10 serving pieces with a cleaver
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, scraped and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup Tomato Sauce
  • Bouquet garni, tied in cheesecloth, consisting of 5 sprigs fresh parsley, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons burro maneggiato (butter and flour mixed in equal amounts to form paste)
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage, parboiled for 10 minutes, cooled and sliced
  • 15 young carrots, scraped and parboiled for 7 minutes, drained
  • 20 chestnuts, freshly shelled, and parboiled in red wine for 15 minutes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a large flameproof casserole, cook, stirring occasionally, the salt pork and duck fat together over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the salt pork with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  2. Add the duck pieces to the casserole and cook, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and in the remaining duck fat cook, stirring frequently, the onion, carrot, and garlic cloves, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the casserole with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off the duck fat and discard.
  3. Return the vegetables and duck to the casserole and heat over a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Pour in the wine and boil until it is almost evaporated, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, and bouquet garni, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 1½ hours.
  4. Remove the duck pieces from the casserole with a slotted spoon. Pass the broth through a strainer or food mill, discarding the vegetables and bouquet garni. Transfer the broth to a ceramic bowl and place in the refrigerator. Let cool until the fat forms a layer on top, about 6 hours, then remove and discard the fat layer.
  5. Return the de-fatted broth to the casserole and heat over medium heat. Stir in the burro maneggiato and, once it has melted, stir in the reserved salt pork, duck pieces, sausage, baby carrots, and chestnuts. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Taste for seasoning and serve.


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