Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Duck confit, white bean mash and blackberry sauce with Pinotage

Despite the poncy title this little number was actually created out of leftovers.

We had some beans and some duck confit leftover from making the Cassoulet. Rather than make another cassoulet (and put on another stone!) I thought I'd try something a bit lighter.

So, the beans. Dead easy really. The beans had already been soaked so all I needed to do was cook them. An hour and a half or so at a steady simmer did that. After they cooled a little I blitzed them in a blender until they formed a smooth, creamy mash.

The bean mash was a bit bland, so I seasoned with a good bit of salt and pepper and some nice olive oil. However, it still wasn't quite what I was after. It needed something extra which had me reaching for the spice cupboard. I toasted some fennel seed and caraway seed, ground them in a pestle and mortar and added them to the bean mash. Much better.

The duck confit is very easy to cook. It's simply added to a frying pan over a medium heat and allowed to heat through. It's so tender it nearly falls off the bone as it cooks and the smell does wonders for stimulating the appetite.

When I was thinking about this dish I knew that it was going to need a fruity sauce to give it a lift. We have some cherry trees growing down by the river near where we live and I was really tempted to make a sauce with some of the cherries. But, we also have some blackberries growing in our garden which are really tasty and I thought a blackberry sauce would go nicely. Thankfully I wasn't wrong.

As is usual when I've thought of something to do but I'm not certain it'll work, I googled it to see if it had already been done. Yes it has. It's handy to get some hints and it helped to make sure I made the sauce savoury rather than sweet like a bramble jelly.

For the sauce I sweated off some finely chopped shallot in a little duck fat - I find it hard to now to consider frying with anything else - and a couple of bay leaves. After a few minutes I added some freshly picked blackberries, about a cereal bowl full, and a fair bit of black pepper. The blackberries broke down in a few minutes after which I added a splash of the Pinotage we'd be drinking with the meal. It seems the done thing really.

The final result was one very satisfying meal. The Pinotage went really nicely with it. I'd say it was medium to full-bodied so texturally it matched the meat and beans. There's a spicy note, which comes from the Pinot Noir in its heritage I guess and which matched the black pepper and other spices. It's also quite fruity and that marries with the blackberry sauce. It wasn't bad at all.

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