Breast of Sonoma Duck in Saba and Mustard Glaze

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Saba-Glazed Breast of Liberty Duck with Herbed Duck Fat Fries

Yield: Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup saba
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared Dijon mustard
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 fresh sage leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 2 whole duck breasts, lobes separated, skin on (I source my duck from Sonoma’s Liberty Ducks, LibertyDucks.com)

TO PREPARE

Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare the glaze by whisking the saba and mustard together in a saucepot. Add the thyme sprigs and sage leaves and heat gently over a medium-low burner for 2 minutes, then set the pan aside to cool. Prepare the duck breasts by scoring the fat with a knife in a diamond pattern, being careful not to fully penetrate through the fat to the meat below. Place a wire rack over a shallow pan for roasting, and set it aside. Preheat a large, heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal) over a medium burner. When the pan is very hot, season the duck well on both sides with salt and pepper, and arrange fat-side-down in the dry pan. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the fat is crisp and brown, then turn on the flesh-side and cook 2 minutes more, or until it is lightly browned. Remove the duck to the wire rack and allow it to cool for at least 3 minutes.

Use a brush to spread the glaze on both sides of the duck breasts, then place in the oven and roast until 130° internal temperature for rare, or 135° internal temperature for medium (pink center). Allow the duck to rest on the rack in a warm place for 5 minutes before serving. You can dilute any remaining glaze with a few tablespoons of water to serve under or over the duck.

WINE PAIRING SUGGESTION:

For Sonoma duck, kissed with sweet glaze, most folks reach for a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, with moderate alcohol, oak and tannins and medium to medium-high acidity to contrast against both the fat and sweetness. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been done as much as it has for good reason, but I suggest a path that hasn’t been trodden into a rut. The same region gives us cool-climate Syrahs that can love ducks as well as they love lamb. Arnot- Roberts and Peay are good names to know, but for this dish, Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Syrah is the thing. With refined tannins, a beautiful melding of minerality, lightly cooked dark fruit, hints of earthy olive and spice, this moderately priced gem is a perfect partner. On the duck side of the equation, saba’s sweetness, which might otherwise steal the fruit from such a wine, is tempered by acidity and piquancy in the Dijon, and balanced by the fatty, earthy duck. Go all-in with herbed frites fried in duck fat—your efforts will be amply rewarded.

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