All recipes paired with wine, Poultry

Simply Baked Duck for a Special Occasion

Whole duckling is enough meat to feed the entire family and some. Ideal, simple dish to entertain. Many people told me that they never ate duck and wouldn’t know how to prepare it. Here is the simplest recipe for a baked duck to bring out all its delicious flavors.

To me and my husband, baked duck is always a special treat. If you like dark meat of turkey, you are going to love duck! Tastier and not as dry as chicken meat, duck could be a serious gourmet experience.

Baked duck couldn’t be easier to prepare – all you need are three ingredients! Really! But, of course there is a few tricks to make it right. If you don’t like greasy meat, pierce the skin before baking and count on 2 – 3 hours slow time in the oven.

Simply Baked Duck for a Special Occasion
(our old family recipe)

1 duckling
caraway seeds

Seriously, that’s all you need. This recipe brings out the most natural flavor of the meat. Remove duckling from its package and reach inside to remove all the parts (usually wrapped in 1 little bag). You can use it later for a delicious broth.

Wash thoroughly duckling under running water and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut the top part of the wings off (you can add it to that soup mixture). Place duckling in the fitting baking dish (bottom up) and generously season with salt and caraway seeds, both sides, all over. I try to season a little even inside.

Take a fork and carefully pierce the skin of the bird around its legs and on the sides. It will help to drain the fat during baking. Do not puncture all the way to the meat, you would loose all the good juices and moisture as well. Your duckling is placed in dry baking dish, because it’s going to produce enough of its own fat.

Cover the dish with heavy duty aluminum foil (I use two same dishes instead because they fit to cover each other) and place it in preheated oven (350 F) on a middle rack. Set your alarm for 1 hour and you can leave the kitchen to do something else.

After first hour remove the dish carefully, take off the cover and ladle all the excess fat from the bottom of the pan. You can keep it or discard it (but it is delicate natural fat you can use on baked potatoes, fries or even to cook on it. It brings a huge flavor to your dishes. O.K., I know, it’s not the healthiest choice. But it’s soooo good!)

When all the fat is removed from the pan, return the bird back to the oven, this time uncovered. Count on at least another hour of slow baking (depends on the size of your duckling). to bake it through and develop a crusty skin. Check on your duck frequently the second hour and remove more fat, if necessary.

Medium size duckling takes usually about 2.5 – 3 hours in total to develop nice, crusty brown skin. It’s ready when you carefully pierce into the meat with knife and it’s soft and falling of the bones. Cut into portions just like you would do a chicken and you are ready to go!

In my country we traditionally serve duck with sweat and sour red cabbage and dumplings. It is a delicious combination but it takes too much time and work. I love my duck with Brussels sprouts and baked potatoes. (oh yeah, of course I used a little bit of that duck fat on them!)

Wine pairing suggestion:
Baked duck reminds me of a very traditional meal in my home country. Therefore, as you can see on the picture, I matched this dish with Czech Pilsner Urquell. It somehow goes great together. Darker meat of duck will pair with wine very well too.

Another Christmas, I reached for Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir Meiomi Pinot Noir and duckand it was sooo delicious!

Great choice would also be some medium body, not over the top red wine, such as Volver or medium body Bordeaux which will compliment duck’s rich flavor – such as an incredible value Château de Cazenove (Bordeaux Superieur).

All recipes paired with wine, Beef

Beef Walldorf with Béarnaise sauce

This is not a simple recipe, but it’s well worth it if you want to impress your party guests. Makes about 20 appetizers.

Beef Walldorf with Béarnaise sauce
(courtesy of my friend chef Matt)

3 medium sized fillets Mignon
1 bag of frozen puff pastry dough
1 box of white mushrooms
1/2 cup of wild dry mushrooms (optional)
2 cups of beef stock
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
2-3 spoons of flour

For the sauce:
3 table spoons of tarragon leaves
3 table spoon tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 shallot
White vinegar
5 egg yolks
2 cups of butter – melt
tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Tabasco
1 teaspoon of white pepper
In a small pan, combine finely chopped mushrooms sprinkled with salt and pepper, with beef stock and heavy cream and let simmer (slowly on low heat) until all the liquid is reduced and mushrooms turned into almost a pate. Set a side and let it cool.

Unfold thawed sheet of dough on wooden surface evenly dusted with flour. Cut into small squares (about 3”). Cut a small cubes of raw fillet Mignon (about 1,5”) and put one piece on one half of each small square of puff pastry. Add a little bit of mushroom’s mix to each square and fold the dough over (cover and press ends to seal).

Cover baking sheet with parchment paper and pre-heat your oven to 350 F. Smear each square with whisked egg whites and bake until light brown (about 30-40 minutes, depends on the size of your squares).

Béarnaise Sauce:
In a small pan add all tarragon leaves, teaspoon black pepper, finely chopped shallot and white vinegar just enough to cover the herbs and let simmer to reduce.

In double broiler:
Add egg yolks, lemon juice, splash of Tabasco and white pepper to a bowl and mix together very carefully over the pan with boiling water (use caution not to set eggs). Keep stirring it until sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and carefully add 2 cups of melted butter (not hot). Add the tarragon reduction into the eggs mixture and season it with salt and pepper, if desired.

Suggested wine pairing:
Since we used a high quality beef in this recipe with combination with very rich flavor of mushrooms – any, even bigger red wine will work with it. The dipping sauce, on the other hand is acidic, so I have chosen new Spanish wine called VOLVER to match with this. Lovely combination!