For various reasons, Helen and I delayed celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary from last week to this weekend. To celebrate, I made Roasted Duck With Cherries, Spinach, Duck Confit and Chocolate from the October 15th issue of the Wine Spectator. As is my wont, of course, I tweaked the recipe a fair bit. I omitted the confit. I added some garlic and worcestershire sauce to the sauteed spinach, which I cooked in some of the the duck fat left over from pan searing the duck breasts instead of butter. I made some roasted new potatoes as a side dish. Mainly, however, I altered the sauce quite a lot. In fact, I basically tossed their recipe and made up my own. So here's the one I used:
- 1 cup 10 year old tawny Port
- 1 6.5 oz. package of Duck and Veal Demi-Glace from D'Artagnan (the duck breasts were also from D'Artagnan)
- 1 cup organic, low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 can Royal Anne Cherries (reserving 8 for later use), drained
- 1 bay leaf
- 12 whole peppercorns
- 1 shallot, roughly chopped
- approx. 1.5 oz. semi-dark baking chocolate, chopped roughly
I combined the Port, demi-glace, and stock in my trusty All-Clad stainless 2-quart saucier pan, brought the mixture to the boil, reduced the heat to a low simmer and added all the other ingredients except for the reserved cherries and the chocolate. I let the sauce reduce until it coated the back of a wooden spoon, periodically mashing the cherries with the same spoon. I then strained the sauce through my finest meshed chinois strainer into a small glass measuring cup, pressing on the solids with the back of that same wooden spoon to extract all the goodness. I set it in the refrigerator until a few minutes before service, at which point I zapped it for a minute in the microwave, added the reserved cherries and chocolate, and zapped it for another minute. Stirred and served. The reserved cherries soaked up the chocolate and were yummy. Helen says it's the best sauce I ever made and who am I to disagree?
The sauce also proved to be great over vanilla ice cream, by the way!
Over the years, I've built up a fair number of 1986 vintage wines in my cellar so that we'll have anniversary wines for the foreseeable future. Mostly cru classes from Bordeaux, of course, but also a few Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons. So tonight I poured the 1986 Dominus Estate.
It was in fine fettle. The cork was slightly depressed (which is always a better sign than slightly extruding). The fill was mid-neck. Upon removal the cork was stained about 2/3 of the way up the sides. Very promising.
I had decanted it off the moderate sediment about 45 minutes before serving it. It was still a deep ruby in color. Good bouquet, suggesting black currant, leather, cedar, and tobacco. On the palate, it was surprisingly youthful. Still has a lot of tannin to resolve, although it was definitely drinkable. Still, it must have been a tannic monster in its youth. Currants, leather, earth, tea, and stewed plums were some fo the flavor associations that popped to mind.
Admittedly, it was not a perfect match for the meal, which probably would have shown better with something younger, less tannic, and fruitier. All in all, a great meal and a spectacular wine, but not an inspired match.