Finally comes the duck story… And I’m afraid yet delighted that you’ll hear more duck stories this winter. How come? Well, I’m spreading the duck spirits around me and so many people are eager to eat more of the delicacy.
Leading up to the last day of my sejour at the winery, I was thinking hard everyday about the duck: how and when to cook it. Sensing the accumulated anticipation of almost two months, I decided to get the task over and done with.
Originally, it was destined for Duck a l’Orange, but I incorporated a Chinese Peking Duck method by adding more herbs and oriental spices such as star anise and cinnamon, and also by drying out the skin for crispiness. The warm aromas had the effect of stimulating a holiday mood as well.
After resting in the fridge overnight, rubbed with salt and spices, it was ready for the oven the next morning. Despite some unexpected events, I managed to cook it for as long as 2.5 hours.
The tough parts, the wings and legs, still needed more time but otherwise the rest was pretty much done. Voila!
Given the lack of resources at the winery, I was relieved to pull off the challenge of cooking the beautiful wild duck, which requires long slow cooking.
I’d imagined having it with chestnut puree but I just didn’t have the energy after working in the lab all day and everyday, so I ordered special sourdough bread with chestnuts.
And that’s how the improvised Sunday lunchtime tasting happened simultaneously. Everyone enjoyed it so much and Chateau Kalpak wines, especially BBK, complimented the aromatic sweet duck perfectly.
The meal was my way of thanking those who had supported me during my internship and secretly rewarding myself for having completed the three-month long learning.
When coming home, I brought the bones – no waste!- and cooked for further 3 hours till the meat fell off the bones. You’d be surprised to see how much meat the leftover bones would yield. It could still feed two adults, perhaps more, and make an endless list of delicious things, such as rillettes or filo parcels, soup, pasta, etc.
But my choice to use up the precious little bits? Ta-da!
Pumpkin Leek Tortellini with Duck Ragu …
I made the tortellini about a month ago when I came home for a short break and froze them for hubby to cook later. He ate it with my pesto sauce and sent me a photo, saying how good it was!
The dough is made of pumpkin, rather than stuffed with it; my way of disguising the ‘only-for-dessert ingredient’ in Turkey’ into a savoury dish. The filling consists of caramelised leek, porcini and ricotta cheese. The dried porcini, though a tiny amount, did add an earthy and umami flavour.
It was absolutely delicious and would have been just as delicious with simply pesto or butter sauce with Parmesan cheese, which is how hubby ate it.
However, the duck ragu, which I further cooked with red wine and garlic, provided extra richness, nourishment and flavours that I call ‘soulful’.
I know my tortellini look more like dumplings, haha, and that’s what happens when you lose patience when making them. You could probably get away with dropping them into Chinese soup!
The Wine Pairing!
It automatically conjured up aromatic and earthy wine with good acidity, yeah…. Nebbiolo! But unfortunately I drank Alasia Langhe Nebbiolo 2014 quite recently.
Ok, so what was my alternative? Yves Cuilleron Syrah, Les Candives 2013
Equally aromatic, peppery and earthy cool-clamate Northern Rhone Syrah would go well, I thought, and I was right.
Upon pulling the cork, gorgeous aromas of concentrated dark cherry and raspberry wafted from the bottle, and after an hour of breathing, typical black pepper, licorice, a hint of leather and smoke aroma followed. The tannins were subtle but firm and elegant with a long finish, not to mention the fresh acidity that helped cut through the fat.
I thoroughly enjoyed every sip with and without food, and it certainly brought back my memories of driving along the Rhone Valley and made me rethink how important for wine to express the sense of the place….
If you come across this wine, give it a try and let me know what you think. You can also read about Domaine Yves Cuilleron on The Mad Rose Group.
Wishing you all a joyful Christmas with a plenty of food food and wine!
Pumpkin Leek Tortellini with Duck Ragu
For the tortellini :
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
extra flour for dusting
For the filling
2 leeks, white and pale green parts
a handful of dried porcini, soaked in warm water
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
a pinch of salt and black pepper
Steps: Follow the recipe on Ravioli with Nettles
For the duck ragu
leftover meaty bits from the whole roasted duck
or make it from scratch by following Venetian Duck Ragu
My simple version of roasting the whole duck
a whole duck
a few sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
2 oranges, squeeze out the juice into a bowl
2 onion, cut in quarter
2 celery sticks, cut in chunks
2 carrots, cut in chunks
sea salt and black pepper
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup white wine
2 Tbsp honey or brown sugar or marmalade
1. Poke the duck skin all over with a knife’s point – it helps render the fat.
2. Rub the duck with salt and spice mixture, including the cavity, and let it sit, uncovered, in the fridge overnight.
3. Place the duck in a roasting pan and stuff the cavity with half the onion, halved orange, rosemary, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise. Spread the rest of the vegetables around the duck.
4. Put the duck, breast side up, in the preheated oven (220’C) for 30 mins, and turn down the heat to 180’C and roast for 1 hour.
5. Take the pan out, turn over the duck, pour the wine and orange juice and continue roasting for another hour.
6. Make the glaze by mixing the honey or sugar with orange juice or simply use marmalade.
7. Take out the duck and brush the glaze mixture all over. Increase the oven to the highest with the broiler on and brown the duck skin for 5-10 mins. When done, take it out of the oven and let it rest.
8. Make the sauce: in a sauce pan, combine 2 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup orange juice and simmer to reduce it. Drain the pan juice through a sieve, pressing down the vegetables, and add it to the saucepan. Whisk it constantly while adding the flour and thicken it to the gravy consistency.
9. Carve the meat and serve with the sauce. Enjoy as much as you can and shred whatever is left to make the ragu!