I casually picked up a duck breast at the farmer’s market today without much of a plan. The Hudson Valley Duck folks assured me that the Lola variety is leaner and more flavorful than standard Pekin or Moulard. “It’s a bit gamier,” they said, “but if you’re a duck lover you’ll love it.” When I confirmed my membership in that particular club, they suggested that we use any leftovers for duck and eggs in the morning. Duck and eggs for breakfast? I think these people are my people.
We’ve been reviewing Grenache for my Serious Eats column (here are the cheap ones, and here are a few more under $25), and every wine we taste seems to beg for duck. There’s something about these wines–they’re rich with a hint of herbs, licorice and lavender, blackberry and seeded raspberry jam. They’re smooth and cherried and a little beguiling, somewhere between the bravado of Shiraz and the silky whispers of Pinot Noir. They call out for a little decadence, but there’s something subtle about them, something steak wouldn’t really ignite. Lamb works fine, but duck is really the perfect, luscious match.
To pick up the berried and spiced flavors in the wine, I added a handful of blackberries and star anise to the pan sauce. The berries soften and become infused in the sauce without adding too much sweetness. Each ingredients gives a little and mingles with the rest. A bite, a sip, and you’ll lose track of where the duck ends and the wine begins. Which is a very good thing.
Seared Duck Breast with Blackberries and Grenache
1 1/4 lb Lola duck breast
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups red wine (preferably Côtes du Rhône or straight Grenache)
2 star anise pods
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Score the skin side of the duck breast so that fat will render properly and season with salt and pepper. Cook skin side down until skin is deeply browned, about 12-13 minutes, removing some of the fat with a baster or ladle and saving it for other purposes. Turn and cook about six minutes for medium-rare. (Slice into one piece to check doneness.) Remove duck and let rest while you make pan sauce. Drain fat from the pan (save it!). Turn heat down in the pan to low, add blackberries, wine, and star anise. Cook 2 minutes until wine has reduced slightly, slice duck breast and return to pan to soak up juices if desired. Serve immediately.duck, wine pairing
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