Duck au Vin

The French have a recipe called Coq au Vin, which basically is chicken braised in wine and chicken stock and served with bacon, mushrooms and pearl onions. We figured that if it works with chicken, it should be great with duck, and we were right.

Start by boiling about 20 pearl onions for a minute or two. Remove with a slotted spoon, cut off the ends and peel the onions.

Next, in a large skillet, fry:
¼ pound of bacon
When the bacon is done, remove to a casserole dish. Season the breasts of two big ducks or four smaller ducks (skinned or picked) liberally with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Sauté the floured duck breasts in the bacon grease. When browned on both sides, remove to a large Dutch oven. Using the same skillet, sauté one at a time:

1 pound of your favorite mushrooms
The pearl onions
Sauté the mushrooms until they give off their liquid, then remove to a casserole dish with the bacon. Sauté the onions and them to the casserole, then cover with cellophane and refrigerate.

In the remaining fat, sauté:
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot stick, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
Drain off any excess fat, increase the heat under the skillet and deglaze the pan with:
1 cup of red wine, preferably pinot noir

Quickly scrape up all the caramelized bits with a wooden spoon, then pour the wine and vegetables over the duck in the Dutch oven, adding:
The rest of the bottle of wine
2 cups of duck stock (or chicken broth)
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of thyme

Place the Dutch oven in the refrigerator, covered, and marinate overnight.

The following day, place the Dutch oven in a 300-degree oven for about three hours. Remove the duck to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Strain the braising liquid, discarding the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves and thyme. Pour the sauce into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer until it reduces and thickens.

Once the sauce has thickened, return the duck, mushrooms, pearl onions and crumbled bacon bits to the saucepan and heat for 15 minutes.

Note: If the sauce doesn’t thicken enough, stir in a bit of prepared roux or cornstarch mixed in cold water.