Duck Confit from SW France … Perfectly Paired with an Old Vine Madiran

Pairing:  Duck Confit with Traditional Accompaniments of Red Cabbage and French Green Lentils, Paired with a 2012 Chateau Peyros Madiran Vieilles Vignes (from Southwest France)

Food: Confit is a centuries-old method of curing and preserving meat done almost exclusively in France. In fact, confit is the French word for preserve. The method is most often done with duck, although we have also enjoyed confit of turkey, rabbit, chicken, and pork. But duck confit is the gold standard and rendered duck fat is used to preserve any of the other meats. We use the recipe in Anne Willan’s French Regional Cooking as the basis for our duck confit. Cut the duck into serving pieces, including the back and the wings. Put all the pieces into a non-reactive bowl and rub salt into each piece thoroughly on all sides, then sprinkle all the pieces with black pepper and thyme. Cover and chill for 10 to 12 hours. Wipe off the seasoning. Set the oven at 300 degrees (F). Place the duck pieces in a flameproof skillet (e.g., cast iron) and cook the meat over a low heat for about 15-20 minutes. The fat will run from the duck and the meat will lightly brown. Remove from the heat and add enough duck fat to cover the duck in the skillet. Cover and put in the oven for three hours until the duck meat is very tender. At this point you preserve the duck pieces by putting the meat into wide mouth Mason jars and pour the liquid duck fat into the jars to completely cover and seal the duck pieces. Preserved this way, the duck will keep for several months in the refrigerator. The taste of duck done this way is absolutely mind blowing, and, surprisingly, neither salty nor fatty.

Wine: Big … bold … powerful …. muscular … these are the adjectives often used to describe Madiran, the wine that many would say most decidedly defines the cuisine of Gascony, the South West region of France. It is not for the faint of heart. Full-bodied, chewy texture, pronounced tannins, big flavor. Madiran is the perfect companion to the rich, hearty foods that identify the ubiquitous gastronomy of France’s magnificent rustic cuisine — cassoulet, confit, jambon de Bayonne, sauce perigueux, beef daube — to name just a few of the classics.

The Madiran appellation, located in the hill country facing the Pyrenees Mountains in South West France (see map), is focused entirely on the production of red wine, primarily that made from the Tannat grape. Chateau Peyros dates back to the 17th century. Although their wines are predominately Tannat (by law, to be called Madiran the wine must be at least 60 to 80 percent Tannat), the wine is most often blended with other “big wine grapes” grown in the region like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, and, to a lesser extent, Fer Servadou, a grape sourced almost exclusively in the region of Gascony.

Tasting Notes:  The color is a deep, dark purple red. The nose can best be described as earthy notes of rich soils of a forest floor in late autumn. Can’t you just smell it!? On the palate, the robust tannins bring out the flavors of earth, rosemary, sage, and roast meat. This wine was made for duck confit. The big muscular tannins are softened by the generous fat in the duck yielding an astonishing flavor. The rosemary comes out in the long finish, which seems to go on and on. Madiran really benefits from a long decanting time … from 5 hours to 2 days. Seriously. An amazing wine!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Duck Confit: Tannat/ Merlot Blend (Uruguay), Malbec (Argentina), Cot and Auxerrois (Cahors, France), Cote de Bergerac (South West France)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Madiran:  Cassoulet, Grilled Sausage, Country Pate, Mousse de Canard

More About Madiran Wine:  Madiran Wine

A Source:

Turkey Leg Confit … Paired with a Robust Zinfandel

Pairing: Turkey Leg Confit Paired with a 2015 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel 

Food: Confit is most often made with duck , usually the leg quarters. Thanksgiving this year was just the two of us (thanks to the pandemic). Last year we had made a turkey roulade which left us with a couple of uncooked legs in the freezer. Well … why not make turkey leg confit? This linked video is excellent in describing the technique for making this most satisfying dish. We made it the exact same way, but used only sage, thyme, salt and pepper for the seasoning. A delicious way to help celebrate this wonderful holiday giving thanks for all our blessings.

Turkey Leg Confit served with vegetables from our garden.

Wine: The Dry Creek Valley wine region in Sonoma County is home to some of the finest Zinfandel in California. Indeed the case could be made that this area produces the best anywhere. As we have stated elsewhere on this site, Zinfandel was the first wine we really fell in love with, and twenty years later it remains a favorite, frequently served on special occasions . For years, we have viewed Zinfandel as the quintessential American wine perfect for celebrating American holidays. However, DNA testing in the 1990’s at UC Davis ascertained that the Zinfandel grape is identical to the Italian grape, Primitivo. Hmmmm …

And, to further muddy the waters, we know that the Primitivo grape is genetically the same as the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski. So, did the Zinfandel grapes in California originate in Italy or Croatia? Yet another mystery … what are the origins of the name Zinfandel? What we do know is that it is a wonderful wine, with complex fruit and spice flavors that pair beautifully with so many foods. And Ridge Vineyards produce some of the very best Zinfandel, single-vineyard wines (e.g., Lytton Springs) being their signature product.

2015 Ridge Lytton Springs – 74% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 2% Mourvedre

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in color. A bouquet of blackberry, black currant, and black cherry. On the palate one gets layers of earth, black currant, spice, and cedar. A pleasant deep “woodsy” taste balanced nicely with the black fruit flavors. The depth of flavors in the wine complements well the richness of the confit. Really nice.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Turkey Confit: Pinot Noir (New Zealand), Cahors (SW France), Saint-Emilion (Bordeaux), Malbec (Argentina)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Zinfandel: Roasted Duck and Lamb, Grilled Beef, Sausage, Lasagna

View the Dry Creek Valley Region:  Dry Creek Valley

A Source:  www.