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Duck Season
© Sue Courtney
30 May 2001

The Challenge came. The ingredient was Duck. I had never cooked duck before. I didn't even know where to buy one.

But as Duck season opened on May 1, someone suggested I could go shoot one. I laughed out loud. Apart from not owning a gun or a gun license, my only successful shooting experience was with a short-range water pistol.

So where does one find a duck when you don't have a friendly hunter to supply you?

I particularly did not want Asian Duck, so I rang a cooking teacher friend and explained my dilemma. She gave me the name of a duck farmer in South Auckland. And what do you know, they said that while some gourmet butchers had the product, frozen duck is available at Woolworths supermarkets. I never buy frozen food. I hadn't even though of looking in the frozen food compartment.

With a bit of ringing around, I had the choice of buying a whole duck ($28 from the butcher or $18 at the supermarket) or boneless breasts at $38 for a packet of two. I chose the whole duck at the cheaper price. It was farmed in Canterbury. It took a day to thaw. Here's what I made.

Spiced Duck braised in grape jelly and red wine and served on a pumpkin oil infused potato mash with a grape jam and chocolate jus

Duck with Chocolate Pinotage Jus You will need

1 Duck
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinotage Jelly (or other grape or berry jelly)
Pinotage Jam (or other grape or berry jam - preferably with whole berries)
Pinotage Wine - I used Kerr Farm Pinotage 2000
10 grams of dark cooking chocolate - grated
Pumpkin Seed Oil

First prepare the thawed duck by washing and drying well inside and out. Rub the skin all over with a butter rub made with the2 tablespoons of butter and the cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

Place the duck into a roasting pan. Put into a slow oven (about 160C) for about an hour and a quarter. Baste occasionally. Drain off fat and juices into a clean container (for later use) about half way though cooking and again after an hour. Be sure to lift duck and drain as much fat as possible from the inside cavity.

Then lift the duck, place a rack over the baking dish, place duck onto rack and cover. Return to the oven, but turn the oven off leaving the duck to drip the fat and juices and to cool slowly. I did this in the morning before I went out for lunch.

Later, break duck into serving portions. Melt some butter in a pan and pan fry the portion to heat the duck through and crisp up the skin. Rub some Pinotage Jelly (or other grape or berry jelly) onto the skin and pour over a dollop of Pinotage (or other red wine). Take care not to over cook as you might end up with Pinotage Toffee. Remove the duck pieces and rest in a warm oven while you make the 'jus'.

The duck juices and fat reserved from the initial baking of the duck will have cooled and separated into a solid jelly of juices covered by a layer of fat. Pour off the fat component and discard.

Add some of the juices to the pan you glazed the duck pieces in, then a couple of teaspoons of Pinotage grape jam, more pan juices and a dollop of the Pinotage wine - until you get the right quantity and consistency. This is going too be used to decorate the plate and pour over the duck. When the consistency is to your satisfaction add the grated chocolate. 10 grams is ample. Cook until chocolate is melted. The sauce should have a glossy look.

Serve on mashed potatoes infused with pumpkin seed oil. Peel enough potatoes for your requirements. Boil under tender, then mash with some milk and about a teaspoon of pumpkin seed oil.

Decorate with the Chocolate Pinotage Jus.

Serve with the remainder of the cooking wine. I used a Kerr Farm Pinotage 2000. This was a good accompaniment to the dish.

Variation. Pinot Noir would also be delicious as would be a port for a rich, sweet effect. The sauce can also be used for beef. Serve with a rich red wine, such as a Merlot, that has a chocolate flavour. I recommend the Ngatarawa Glazebrook Merlot Cabernet 1999 from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

Bon Appetit

© Sue Courtney.

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