Recipe courtesy The Grill Room, New Orleans
Cabernet Sauvignon is known for being a food-friendly wine. It’s rich red- and black-fruit flavors coupled with tannic structure make it perfect for pairing with many dishes, like this roasted duck breast.
Why it works: Cabernet Sauvignons that offer black fruit flavors will highlight the citrus based jus, while flavors from oak aging will complement the pecan purée. The Duck’s potent flavors command attention and will pair well with more rambunctious Cabernet’s with firm tannins to cut through the fat.
- 1 ounce unsalted butter
- ½ pounds pecans
- 2 ounces brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¾ tablespoon hot sauce
- 8 ounces duck or chicken stock, divided
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups orange juice
- 2 cardamom pods
- 2 cloves
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 duck breasts, 5–8 ounces each
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Place heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and heat until frothing subsides and solids turn light brown. Add pecans, and stir to coat. Add brown sugar and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Mixture should begin to stick to pecans. If needed, add a bit more brown sugar to tighten mixture. Deglaze with hot sauce. Add stock, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer. Cook until pecans are soft and fully cooked, about 30 minutes. Transfer mixture to blender and purée until smooth. Pass though a fine mesh sieve. Season with a pinch of salt. Set aside.
For spiced jus, combine orange juice, cardamom, cloves, coriander, allspice and cinnamon in saucepan. Reduce over medium heat until orange juice is darkened and syrupy. Add remaining duck stock. Reduce until about a cup of liquid remains and sauce is slightly thickened. Reserve.
Place sauté pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon cooking oil. Season duck breasts with salt and pepper. Place breasts in pan, skin-side down. then reduce heat to low. Slowly render fat from skin, occasionally draining from pan. When skin is fully rendered, turn breasts over. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan and baste until duck is cooked medium-rare, about 2 minutes. Rest duck for 2–3 minutes. Reheat pecan purée, and divide among 4 plates. Slice breasts thinly and place atop purée. Spoon jus over breasts and serve. Serves 4.
Château la Freynelle 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Bordeaux); $17, 88 points. It’s rare to find a pure Cabernet Sauvignon wine in Bordeaux, so this wine is definitely an exception. It is full of ripe black-currant fruit as well as the tannic structure natural to the grape. The wine has intense acidity as well as structure. It should age further, so drink from 2020. Aquitaine Wine Company. —Roger Voss