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Perfect Pairing

This is a very elegant and impressive main course that should be served with the bold Greenwood Ridge Zinfandel. The hint of pepper and berries in the wine enhance the earthy flavors of the shitake mushrooms and duck. It's a match made in heaven and enjoyed at your table.


Spiced Duck Breasts with Braised Shitake Mushrooms

By Marilyn Tsai


Serves 4


Duck breasts

2 boneless duck breasts with skin (total 1 1/2 lb., Hudson Valley or Muschovy)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (grounded)

1 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds (grounded)

1/2 inch piece ginger (minced)

1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed (toasted and grounded)

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more, depending on taste)

Freshly ground black pepper


Braised Mushrooms

12 medium size dried Shitake mushrooms *(wash and soak in 2 cups of hot water for 30 minutes and then de-stem, reserve water)

2 shallots (finely chopped)

1 clove garlic (minced)

1 1/2 cup veal stock or canned beef stock

1/4 cup Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel

1 cup mushroom water (reserved from soaking dried mushrooms)

1-2 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon arrowroot or corn starch (optional)

Salt to taste


*Dried shitake mushrooms are available at most Asian Supermarkets




1. Prepare duck breasts


Wash and pat dry with paper towels. Pierce skin of duck all over with a fork and score lightly with a knife to allow fat to drain. Season duck on both sides with salt, pepper, garlic and the grounded spices. Let duck breasts marinate, at least an hour, but preferably 4-5 hours.


2. Sear duck breasts


In a large skillet, over high heat, cook duck breasts skin side down until brown and crispy, about 5-6 minutes. Turn over and sear for 4 minutes. Duck breasts are done when they reach an internal temperature of 160° and should be slightly pink in the middle. Traditionally, duck breasts are cooked until medium rare because overcooking will cause the meat to be chewy. Transfer duck breasts to an ovenproof pan. Set aside and keep warm in a 200° oven. Do not wash skillet. Use skillet in step 3.


3. Braise mushrooms and wine sauce


Remove all but 2 tablespoons of duck fat from the skillet. Heat up skillet on medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 30 seconds. Add garlic and shitake mushrooms, sauté for 1 minute. Add reserved mushroom water and stock (when adding mushroom water, be sure to use only the liquid and discard the sediment at the bottom). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add wine and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until shitake mushrooms are tender. Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave sauce to simmer until reduced to about 1 cup. Meanwhile, mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water and stir to mix well. Pour into sauce and increase heat to bring to a quick boil. Turn off heat and set pan aside to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in butter and add salt. Taste to adjust seasoning. Keep sauce warm.


4. Assemble


Place mushrooms in the center of the dinner plate. Diagonally cut duck breasts and place on top of mushrooms. Spoon sauce over duck.