Pair with Yost Merlot
A treasured recipe courtesy of Chef Hiro Sone and friends from St. Helena's once fabled restaurant, Terra. You can find this and other amazing recipes in Chef Hiro's book, "Terra: Cooking from the Heart of the Napa Valley".
Merlot-Braised Duck Legs with Wild Mushroom and Bacon Vol-au-Vent
Braised Duck Legs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 large duck legs, trimmed of extra fat and the skin scored
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 cups Merlot
2 cups game stock or brown chicken stock
1/3 cup chopped tomato
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 cup milk
3 cups water
4 salsify, about 3/4 inch thick and 8 inches long, or 4 baby turnips, 2 inches in diameter
Wild Mushroom and Smoked Bacon Vol-au-Vent (see below)
To braise the duck legs, preheat the oven to 325. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof saucepan or Dutch oven over high heat. Season the duck legs with salt and pepper, then place in the pan, skin side down, and cook until golden brown on each side. Transfer the duck legs to a plate and keep warm. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and thyme, and sauté until browned. Add the flour and stir for 1 minute, then add the Merlot, stock, tomato, peppercorns, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Lightly season with salt and pepper; add the duck legs and decrease the heat to a simmer. Cut a circle of parchment paper that just fits inside the pan and a 1-inch hole in the center. Place the paper on the duck legs and braise in the oven for about an hour, or until tender. Carefully transfer the duck legs to a plate and keep warm. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Rinse the pan and return the sauce to the pan. Cook over high heat until reduced to 2 cups. Return the duck legs to the pan and keep warm.
Combine the milk and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the salsify and cut into 3-inch-long pieces. Put the salsify into the boiling milk and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. (If using turnips instead, cut each into 6 wedges and cook in boiling water, omitting the milk, until tender, about 3 minutes.) Drain and add to the hot mushroom cream sauce for the vol-au-vent.
To serve, place a warm vol-au-vent on the upper side of 4 warmed plates and spoon the mushroom and salsify cream sauce into each vol-au-vent. Place a duck leg in front of each vol-au-vent and spoon the Merlot sauce over the duck legs.
Wild Mushroom and Smoked Bacon Vol-au-Vent
14 ounces all-butter puff pastry
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon water
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 slice bacon, cut into 1/4 inch-wide strips (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon minced shallot
6 ounces wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces
1/8 teaspoon minced garlic
Pinch of chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup veal stock
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
To make the vol-au-vents, preheat the oven to 400˚. On a lightly floured board, roll the puff pastry out into a 7 by 14 inch rectangle 3/16 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 8 rounds from the sheet of puff pastry. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 4 rounds from the center of 4 of the large rounds to form rings. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk with the water to make an egg wash. Brush the rings and the smaller rounds with the egg wash. Place the rings, brushed side down on top of the larger rounds so that the 3 1/2-inch rounds are a double thickness on the outside. Match the ring up carefully and don’t press hard; the puff pastry will puff better if it is not pressed down. Brush the tops of the rings only with the egg wash, being careful not to let any of it drip down the sides of the puff pastry. Place the vol-au-vents and the 2 1/2-inch rounds on a baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through on the bottom. Keep warm in a 200˚ oven, or reheat them in a 350˚ oven for 2 minutes just before serving.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large sauté pan or skillet over high heat. Add the bacon and shallots, lower the heat to medium, and sauté until the shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic, increase the heat to high, and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Add the thyme, stock, and cream, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, place 1 vol-au-vent in the center of each of 4 warmed plates. If the centers of each vol-au-vent are puffed up, tap them down gently with your finger to make a well; be careful not to break through the bottom. Divide the sauce and mushrooms among the wells of the vol-au-vents, putting most of the sauce inside and the extra around the outside. Garnish each with a sprig of thyme, then set a 2 1/2-inch round on top. Sprinkle with chives.