Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SOMETHING TO WINE ABOUT - Slow braise of duck with pinot noir

We just catered for a stunning wedding in Wanaka over the weekend and I’m reminded how truly wonderful that part of New Zealand is. Otago gets me every time, I simply never tire of its incredible landscapes, bright yellows and oranges, lakes and poplars. And hey, let’s be completely honest here, I certainly never tire of its pinot noirs.

The wedding was held at Rippon Vineyard, the marquee positioned between vines and facing straight out to Mt Aspiring, the lake, Wanaka township and around to Treble Cone. Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe it. At dessert service not a guest was to be found in the marquee, all standing out the front jaws on the ground watching a spectacular sunset over the mountains. With a Rippon Pinot Noir in their hands...

See? Try as I might to talk about the scenery et al, I cannot help but return to the nectar of Otago – its pinot noir. New Zealand is becoming as well known for its pinots as Australia is for its shiraz. Increasingly at events our clients are happy to serve just one red and when once it was a blend, now it’s a pinot.

And thus, we cook with it. Pinot noir is a great wine to add depth to your cooking where appropriate particularly if you’re making a special effort to match the food. We use it in our reductions over rich Canterbury red meats or we make pinot syrup lightly lifted with cinnamon and orange zest for poaching rhubarb, delicious with a nutty crumble simply sprinkled over the top.

As always when cooking with wine, the better the quality; the better the final product. Obviously that also means it’s more drinkable and while I’m a repeat offender of the drinking while cooking, remember the less you drink; the better the final product.

Today I’m giving you a slow braise of duck with pinot noir. I make mine with an Otago drop in honour of all things glorious about that region. To keep it summery, serve it with a spinach salad, with fava beans, lardons and pearl onions tossed through. In winter, heap it on top of a great olive oil mash and sticky shallots reduced in a little of the braising juices. You will note the recipe uses 2 cups of wine for the duck which means and an extra 1 for the cook. Cook it & Love it.

Serves 6

6 duck legs
duck fat
2 onions
1 dessertspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
juice and zest of an orange
2 cups of pinot noir
2 tablespoons maple syrup
salt and pepper

In a sauté pan, brown duck in duck fat until golden. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Sauté onions in fat and remove with slotted spoon and spoon over duck. Combine remaining ingredients in a jug and pour over. Season with salt and pepper, cover and place in 180°C oven and slowly braise until tender for 1 – 1 ½ hours.

Carefully remove the duck from the sauce with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish. Skim fat from sauce and thicken the sauce with beurre manié and pour over duck and serve.

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