The supermarket down the road now sells fresh duck. I thought it would make a nice treat for an intimate pre-Christmas dinner for two. Besides, the rest of my family donít like duck. Too fatty, they say.
I bought two duck breasts and gee, there sure was a lot of skin and underlying fat, most of which I cut off. The excess fat was well-dried and popped into a frying pan to render the fat to cook potatoes in, because everyone says just how wonderful potatoes are when they are cooked in duck fat. Very soon I had an enormous amount of beautifully clear fat.
I wanted to cook the duck breasts to match to some of the wines left over from recent tastings, a few gewurztraminers and the like, as well as to one of my favourite pinot noirs of the year, the Seresin 'Leah' Pinot Noir 2004, from Marlborough. I had enjoyed a bottle of this on my birthday, in September, and the wine was incredibly delicious although I canít remember what I had with it. Now I had another bottle and when I opened it, it tasted just as delicious as I remembered.
Seresin 'Leah' Pinot Noir 2004 is awash with a rich Burgundy-purple colour and is intense in taste as it is in appearance. It's packed with scrumptious flavours of ripe cherry and dusky plum fruit with savoury oak and mulled wine spices beautifully supported by an earthy savoury backbone and a long, creamy, velvety-textured finish and a touch of bitter chocolate as it lingers. A gorgeous wine and not even the flagship of the Seresin stable. But a very special wine as it is named for Michael Seresin's daughter, Leah.
But how would it match to duck? I would soon find out.
Looking at all my recipe books for a recipe for roasted duck breast that appealed to the taste I wanted to capture, I came across a recipe in New Zealand Food, Wine and Art A New Journey - the second volume of this now three-volume successful series. A recipe for Breast and Confit of Duck, from Wakelin House in Greytown, a recipe made to go with Pinot Noir, gave me the basics I needed to create my dish.
After the excess fat was removed from the breasts, I scored the skin in a criss-cross pattern and rubbed in a marinade made from the juice and zest of a tangelo, a teaspoon of five spice powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and sprigs of lemon thyme. The breasts were left to marinate for at least an hour then they were pan-fried, skin-side down in a hot frying pan to sizzle the skin. After lowering the heat they were cooked skin-side down for an elapsed time of 10 minutes.
They were turned to seal the other side then placed in a 200 degree Celsius oven for 5 minutes, then removed to rest for another 5 minutes more before slicing across the breast and plating.
Simple accompaniments included my favourite kumara mashed with honey and roasted garlic, potatoes roasted in duck fat and a summery green salad.
This, I have to say, was sensational with both the Seresin Leah Pinot Noir 2004 and the Cloudy Bay Gewurztraminer 2003 leftovers.
Seresin Leah Pinot Noir 2004, at $29.90 a bottle, delivers value for money. It carries 14% alcohol by volume and is sealed with a cork. For more information, dial up the Seresin website - www.seresin.co.nz.
© Sue Courtney
25 December 2005