Pinot and duck are a heavenly pairing

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Vision Cellars 2019, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($40), our Wine of the Week, is a crowd pleaser with a richness and suppleness that will appeal to those who still consider Pinot Noir a “wimpy” varietal. . This is not the case, but the myth persists.

This complex Pinot Noir suggests dark fruits like blackberry, black raspberry and blackberry, black plum and Bing cherry. Through the fruit flavors are savory streams of moist topsoil, wild mushrooms and black pepper. The wine’s lovely acidity and long tannins reveal the varietal’s character best and set it apart from larger, bolder reds.

At the table, wine shines with certain root vegetables, including beets, sweet potatoes and celeriac. It is excellent with salmon. When the cherries start to appear in a few weeks, slow cook this salmon and top it with a Bing Cherry-Basil Relish.

The wine is also excellent with duck and, surprisingly, with game. Coq au vin, risotto with black chanterelles and caramelized onions bring out the subtle qualities of the wine.

For today’s dish, I am inspired by the streaks of spices reflected in these ground duck meatballs. In this recipe, the meatballs are served over fresh greens and topped with a slightly sweet vinaigrette. They can also be served as an appetizer or in a sandwich with cherry mayonnaise.

Salad of duck meatballs with honey vinaigrette

Makes 4 servings

1 pound duck meat, skinless, in pieces, well chilled

½ pound duck fat (the oily skin of a duck breast is best), cut into pieces, well chilled

1 tablespoon duck fat or coconut oil

2 shallots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

½ star anise, crushed

1 allspice berry, crushed

2 cardamom seeds (not the pods), crushed

Kosher salt

Ground white pepper

¾ cup dry red wine

1 large egg, beaten

2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest

1 ½ cups of fresh breadcrumbs, good bread from the hearth

Ground black pepper

Honey Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Mild olive oil or coconut oil, for frying

Mix of spring or frisee salad

Sprigs of spearmint, for garnish

Start by grinding or slicing the duck and the duck fat. This can be done using a grinder attached to a Kitchen Aid blender, in which case it’s best to go through the ingredients twice. This can also be done with the metal blade of a food processor or by hand with a sharp chef’s knife. When done, transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

Put the duck fat or coconut oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, add the shallots and garlic and sauté until tender and fragrant, about 6-7 minutes.

Add the anise, allspice and cardamom and season generously with salt and white pepper. Increase heat to high, add wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

When the spice mix is ​​cold, add it to the duck, along with the egg and orange zest. Mix well and incorporate half of the breadcrumbs. Taste, rectify with salt and season very generously with black pepper. Refrigerate the mixture.

While the mixture cools, prepare the dressing (below).

When the mixture is well chilled, use a small ice cream scoop to form balls the size of a ping-pong ball.

Put the remaining breadcrumbs in a bowl and roll each meatball in the breadcrumbs, pressing gently as needed to coat well. Transfer to a sheet of waxed paper.

Pour about ½ inch of oil into a heavy-bottomed saucepan (a large cast iron skillet is ideal) and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add 4 or 5 meatballs, spacing them out so they have enough room. Fry for about 4 minutes, until golden on one side. Gently roll up the meatballs and fry for another 3-5 minutes, until the meatballs are evenly browned, after which they should also be cooked through. Gently shaking the pan as the meatballs cook will keep them nicely rounded.

Transfer cooked meatballs to paper towel or wire rack to drain and continue until all meatballs are cooked. Cover and keep warm.

Divide the green or frisee salad among individual plates and season with a little salt. Top with meatballs and drizzle a little vinaigrette over everything. Decorate with sprigs of mint and enjoy immediately.

Honey Vinaigrette

Makes about ⅓ cup

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons of honey, preferably local

3 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Ground black pepper

Place vinegar, honey and garlic in a small bowl; season with salt and stir until smooth. Whisk in the olive oil and add several generous turns of black pepper. Taste and correct for salt and acidity.

Michele Anna Jordan has authored 24 books to date, including “More Than Meatballs.” Email her at [email protected]

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