Duck Breast with Red-Wine–Poached Quince

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Duck Breast with Red-Wine–Poached Quince
paired with Pine Ridge Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
Serves 4

With abundant fruit, sweetness, and spice, this duck breast needs a powerful and perfumed red wine. The anise, cassis, and lavender scents in our Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon make the perfect aromatic complement for duck.

Red-Wine–Poached Quince

1 teaspoon white and black peppercorns
2 star anise
3 cups red wine
¾ cup honey
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 orange zest strips, about 3 inches long
3 large quince, peeled and diced into ½-inch squares
½ cup currant

Tie the peppercorns and star anise in a cheesecloth sachet.

In a saucepan, combine the wine, honey, vanilla bean, orange zest, and sachet. Bring to a boil, stirring until the honey dissolves. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes and then slip the quince into the syrup. Cover and simmer until the quince are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the currants, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the quince, currants, and vanilla bean from the syrup and place in a serving bowl. Scrape the beans from the pod into the fruit mixture; rinse and use the vanilla bean for another purpose. Remove and discard the orange zest and sachet from the poaching liquid. If the syrup is thin, reduce it over high heat until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Pour syrup over the quince mixture; cover and chill.

The quince may be made up to a week in advance. Bring to room temperature before using.

Duck Breast

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon coriander seed, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon star anise, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon dry thyme
4 single Pekin duck breasts, 6 to 8 ounces each

Make the dry rub by combining the salt, sugar, and spices in a small bowl. Set aside.

Using a sharp knife, split the attached breasts apart, for four pieces total. Trim off the loose skin. Score the skin with a few crosshatches, just skin deep, and rub spices all over the duck breasts. Place on a tray and wrap with plastic; refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

Rinse the duck breasts and pat dry. Sprinkle the flesh side with a little kosher salt. Fry skin side down in a heavy pan to render the fat and crisp the skin. Turn the breasts over and cook a few more minutes, until the duck is medium-rare and still springy to the touch. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.

To serve, slice breasts on the diagonal and spoon quince and syrup over meat.