Move over pork: Duck is the new darling of America’s hottest restaurants, and it scores big with playful wine pairings from Rioja to the Rhône.
The accompaniments for Executive Chef Jason Franey’s 14-day dry-aged Muscovy duck may get an update each season, but the dish remains a sophisticated staple at this Seattle superstar. “Duck isn’t trending, it’s timeless,” says the restaurant’s owner, Mark Canlis. “Just because something is classic doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant, particularly in the hands of chef Jason Franey. It’s his understanding and modern translation of the past that makes this dish so popular today.”
While the recipe remains a restaurant secret, Franey created this streamlined version for the home chef—noting that many butchers keep dry-aged duck in stock—and included a perfect wine pairing.
1 dry-aged Muscovy duck
Wild clover honey, to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Rub the duck with honey, salt and pepper. Roast in an oven at 450˚F for 17 minutes. Let rest before carving.
Wine and Spirits Director Nelson Daquip recommends R. López de Heredia’s 2001 Viña Tondonia Reserva from Rioja to match the recipe. “The interaction of savory dried herbs and refined tannins pairs well with the gaminess of the duck and earthiness of the dish,” says Daquip.
At Saison in San Francisco, pintail duck is roasted over cherry-wood embers and served with dried cherry, cherry leaf and cherry blossom. Sommelier and partner Mark Bright’s preferred pairing for the dish is Domaine de Montille’s 2006 Les Rugiens Premier Cru Pommard.
“My pairings for duck often include red Burgundy and domestic cool-climate Pinot Noirs,” says Bright, “Depending on the richness of earthiness of the dish, I also like to do older northern Rhônes, Côte Rôties that are softer in structure and high in acidity.”
“I think duck is making a resurgence because more and more people are realizing just how delicious it can be,” says Executive Chef Paul Carmichael, who serves duck on both the lunch and dinner menus at Manhattan’s Momofuku Má Pêche.
“People are recognizing how flavorful it is as well as its versatility. Also, who can resist crispy duck skin?”
For the duck with orange, pistachio and rutabaga dish, which Carmichael calls “a neat twist on a classic duck a l’orange,” Wine Director Jordan Salcito recommends the Domaine Marquis d’Angerville 2007 Taillepieds Premier Cru Volnay from Burgundy.
“The Taillepieds brings notes of tart cherry, hints of blood orange, profound minerality and slight herbal tones that form a gorgeous partnership with Paul’s luscious duck,” says Salcito. “The flavors are in perfect harmony, and the natural brightness of the wine adds a lovely foil for the duck.”
“When pairing duck with wine you have to consider the fattiness and the darker, gamy flavors,” says Tom Schaudel, chef/owner of Jewel on Long Island. “I always lean toward Pinot Noir first, and I prefer Burgundy and Long Island Pinots for their earthiness, elegant fruit and slightly smoky qualities. In colder weather I tend towards Cabernet Francs and southern Rhône wines for the dark berry and hints of pepper.”
Schaudel won’t shy away from an occasional white pairing, either.
“Whites, if chosen carefully, can marry real well with duck,” he says. “The meat can handle slightly sweet and sweet-and-sour sauces so an off-dry Riesling from Alsace or Germany can match very nicely.”
Miso-glazed Crescent Farms Duck Breast with Parsnip Puree, Duck Fried Rice, and Candied Kumquats
Recipe courtesy Tom Schaudel, chef-owner, Jewel Restaurant
For the duck breast
4 duck breasts, skin on and fat trimmed
For the marinade
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cups brown sugar
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
½ cup minced basil leaves
½ cup minced cilantro leaves
½ cup brewed coffee
Combine soy sauce, garlic, herbs and spices with coffee in a bowl. Marinate duck breasts in mixture for up to 6 hours or overnight. Drain and pat dry. Saute in a hot pan, skin-side down until nicely browned. Turn the breasts over, place the pan in the oven and continue cooking at 400°F for 5 minutes until medium rare. Remove duck from pan and rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with miso glaze, parsnip puree, duck fried rice, and candied kumquats.
For the miso glaze
1 cups mirin
2/3 cup sugar
1½ tablespoon ginger
1½ stalks lemongrass
⅓ cup soy sauce
1½ cups miso
Combine mirin, sugar and lemongrass into a sauce pot over medium-high heat, reduce by 1/3 and strain. Mix soy sauce and miso into reduced ingredients.
For the parsnip puree
1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 cups heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 ounces unsalted butter
Place parsnips in a pot, season with salt and cover with water. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until tender: The tip of a paring knife should easily go through without resistance, approximately 15 minutes. In a medium saucepan, place the cream and thyme sprigs over low heat and bring to a simmer. Drain parsnips and reserve cooking liquid. Place parsnips in a food processor with butter and a couple of tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid. Begin to process and add strained heavy cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and puree until very smooth.
For the fried rice
5 tablespoons soy oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
8 ounces mushrooms, sautéed and cooled
½ cup edamame
1 generous pinch kosher salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 pint cooked long-grain white rice
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup cooked duck confit or duck meat, cut in pieces
Fresh cilantro leaves
Heat 3 tablespoons of the soy oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high flame, then add the shallots, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add mushrooms, and edamame, stir-fry about 3 minutes and season with a pinch of salt. Remove the vegetables to a side platter and wipe out the wok.
Place the pan back on the heat and coat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, pour the eggs into the center of the pan. Scramble the egg lightly, and let it set without stirring so it stays in big pieces. Fold in the rice and toss with the egg to combined well, breaking up the rice clumps with the back of a spatula. Return the sauteed vegetables to the pan and moisten with the soy and oyster sauce. Add the duck and cilantro and toss everything together to heat through and check the seasoning.
“My favorite pairing with this dish is the 2007 Waters Crest “Grand Vin” Cabernet Franc,” says Wine Director Courtney Schaudel. “The smoky, dark cherry notes and hints of pepper play well off the coffee, and soy flavors of the duck and both the wine and the duck were grown less than five miles from each other.”