Italy has 20 regions, each home to a unique and delicious cuisine. Culinary instructor and cookbook author Katie Caldesi's book, The Italian Cookery Course, is a compilation of 400 of Italy's best recipes from simple to very complex. Use Italy's famous Chianti wine in this sweet and savory duck dish.
The combination of gamey meat and sweet, slightly sticky cherries is heavenly. This is a dish we developed for a banquet to be served at the beautiful Castello di Gabbiano, south of Florence. Italian cherries were just in season so we doused them in the Castello’s Chianti and served this as a sauce with locally caught duck.
- 4 duck breasts, skin on
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 1/2 ounces cherries, halved, stones removed
- 2/3 cups orange juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups red wine, such as Gabbiano Chianti
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- To make the sauce, put the cherries into an ovenproof dish, pour in the orange juice, then sprinkle with half the sugar. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the cherries have softened and browned a little. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, pour the wine into a saucepan with the remaining sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes to allow it to reduce to about a third of its volume (you want about 2/3 cup).
- Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick frying pan and, when hot, fry the breasts, skin-side down, for about 6 minutes, then turn them over and fry for a further 4 minutes. This will give you medium-rare meat. If you prefer it well cooked, transfer the duck breasts to a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 10–15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pour the cherries and the wine into a large frying pan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave for around 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
- Slice the duck breasts and arrange them on warmed serving dishes. Pour the sauce over and serve with plenty of creamy polenta or mashed potato.
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