Coming out of the month of November and the Thanksgiving holiday reminds me of what really matters. This time of year helps me slow down for a minute and savor the moment – to enjoy the amazing food and even better, the company it was shared with.
Going into December, I cherish it all the more. Almost overnight we have cozy, winter nights, twinkling lights, crackling fires….What better way to continue deeper into the holiday season than to gather more friends around the table? There’s no better way to treasure the season than to make a hearty meal, light the candles, turn on the music and pour a glass of wine.
That’s when I pull out a bottle of Willakenzie Estate wine. Honestly, there’s nothing like a stellar bottle of wine to help everyone relax and savor the evening : ).
As I am sure you would agree, food and wine pairings are one of the best experiences on earth! I developed this recipe for juniper brandy crisp duck legs with dates & apples specifically with Willakenzie Estate’s Pinot Noir Pierre Léon. The dark spices, coffee, mocha, and black fruit notes of this pinot was literally the most remarkable compliment to the duck.
Feel free to choose any side of your choice to pair. Here I chose a beautiful pasta, but traditionally, a wonderful mashed potato dish, served with a salad like this, and a rustic loaf of bread will make your meal complete.
So how are you enjoying the holiday season around the table? Make sure to share on social and tag me and Willakenzie Estate – always love to see! I highly recommend that whatever your plans are, you pick up a bottle of Willakenzie Estate wine. It also makes the perfect hostess gift, ps : ) .
Juniper Brandy Crisp Duck Legs with Dates & Apples
Yield 6 servings
This duck is slow roasted to perfection with whole spices, wine, brandy and shallots. It's easy to make in advance which allows for an effortless evening to host friends at your table.
- 6 duck legs (about 2½-3 pounds)
- ½ teaspoon cloves, ground
- 2 teaspoons sea salt, large flake
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 small shallots
- 2 tablespoons juniper berries, dried
- 1 cup Willakenzie Estate’s Pinot Noir Pierre Léon
- ¾ cup brandy
- 2 large dates, quartered, pits removed
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- Olive oil, for brushing
- 3 apples, very crisp and halved
- ¼ cup butter
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- Mix cloves and sea salt in a small bowl. Place duck on a baking sheet. Prick skin all over with a small knife and sprinkle with spice mixture, pressing to adhere. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.
- Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 300°.
- Heat butter in a large dutch oven and cook shallots with juniper berries, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned around edges, 3 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat. When duck has rested for 1 hour, place each leg skin side down into liquid (depending on size of pan, they may overlap quite a bit which is fine). Lightly brown the skin for about 3 minutes each.
- Remove duck legs and set aside.
- Place dutch oven back on stove on medium heat. Immediately add wine, brandy, dates and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
- Add duck legs back in. Pour in filtered water to cover three-quarters of the way up on the legs. Cover pot and braise duck legs in oven until submerged in their own fat, 1½–2 hours.
- Turn duck legs skin side up and continue to braise (still covered) until tender and the bones wiggle easily in joints, 1½–2 hours longer.
- Remove from oven and uncover. Let legs cool in braising liquid, then chill until fat rises to the surface and solidifies, about 2 hours. Chill in fridge until ready to do the final step before serving.
- Right before serving, place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425°. Remove duck legs from braising liquid, brushing off any seeds or fat clinging to surface. Place skin side up on a wire rack set inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Lightly brush legs with oil.
- Roast until golden brown and skin is crisp, just a few minutes. Serve warm with caramelized apples and sides of choice.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add butter and warm. Just before it’s completely melted, drizzle maple syrup and sugar. Do not stir.
- Place halved apples, inside down in pan. Leave undisturbed for 10-20 minutes. Butter and sugar should be lightly simmering; adjust heat accordingly.
- Check for doneness every few minutes after the 10 minute mark by carefully lifting the edge of the apple with a fork. Apples are done with they are golden brown.
- Remove carefully from pan, one at a time and place inside up on a platter. Let cool or serve warm.
This content is sponsored and all opinions are my own.