Lorenza de Medici has a recipe for wild boar stew that has all sorts of unique flavorings and techniques. The marinade and subsequent braising liquid calls for juniper (the pine berry that is also the prominent flavoring in gin), red wine, carrots celery and onions. Separately, she caramelizes sugar with garlic, and then adds red wine vinegar to create a sweet and sour flavor. When the pork is cooked, the meat is pulled out, and the braising liquid (along with all the mushy vegetables) are pureed to act as a thickener to the stew. She finishes the sauce with chocolate, prunes and almonds.
As I often do, I substitute proteins within a recipe… chicken for pork, pork for duck, duck for beef or tuna, and so on… for this recipe, I decided duck breasts would be a fine substitute for the wild boar. And since duck breasts don’t require a long braising time (and in fact suffer from that) more modifications were necessary.
The duck received the same marinade as the original recipe. I then poached a technique from Thomas Keller to cook the duck “sous vide” I removed the skin, rolled up the duck breast lengthwise, the duck was rolled in a blanched cabbage leaf and then wrapped in plastic wrap like a tootsie roll. The whole package is poached in boiling water for 8 minutes for a perfect medium rare.
I liked the idea of the caramelized sugar for a sweet and sour sauce. But since I didn’t have red wine vinegar, I used balsamic instead. I didn’t want to lose the essence of the marinade, so I cooked that until the vegetables were tender, pureed that, and added it to the caramelized balsamic. Going back to the original recipe, I finished the sauce with chocolate. And recognizing my personal preferences, I omit the bay leaves, candied citron, raisins and pine nuts.
The prunes transformed into a tart relish with fresh plums, shallots and thyme.
Celeriac Puree pairs magically with the sauce – complimenting both the sweet and sour flavor, as well as the juniper.
Of course, I couldn’t lose the duck skin. Those went into the oven until they transformed into cracklings.
All together, this was an elegant main meal for the Passover Seder last week. I serve this dish year-round, sometimes with duck, other times with pork tenderloin, and sometimes even with tuna.
3 pounds wild boar
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
½ bottle red wine
4 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. black pepper
¼ cup sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 oz. grated bitter chocolate
1/3 cup raisins, soaked in water
½ cup pitted prunes, soaked in water
¼ cup pine nuts
1 tbs. candied citron, finely chopped.
1. Twenty-fours ahead, put the meat in a good-sized, flameproof casserole together with the carrots, celery and onions. Add the wine and marinate for 24 hours, turning from time to time.
2. On the serving day, remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until it begins to color. Brown the meat on all sides. Strain the vegetables from the marinade add to the meat with the juniper berries, 1 of the bay leaves, salt and pepper. Pour some of the marinade over. Cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender, adding the remaining marinade, a little at a time.
3. Transfer the meat to a flameproof casserole. Puree the vegetables, then pour them over the meat and reheat. In a sauce pan, melt the sugar with the garlic and remaining bay leaf, and cook until lightly colored. Add the vinegar and bitter chocolate. Boil for a few minutes. Add the sauce to the meat together with the raisins, prunes, pine nuts and candied citron. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes before serving.
Julia’s Revised Recipe
Duck Roulade with Caramelized Balsamic Sauce, Roasted Plums and Juniper
8 duck breasts, skin removed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cups red wine
1 tsp. juniper berries
8 big leaves from savoy cabbage (with no splits or tears)
1/4 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 oz. chocolate or butter
2 plums, quartered and chopped
6 prunes, pitted and chopped coarsely.
1 tsp. thyme, chopped
1 shallot, sliced or diced
salt and pepper to taste
1. Marinate duck with wine, juniper, salt, pepper, carrots, onions, and celery for up to 24 hours.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook cabbage leaves for 1 or 2 minutes, or just until wilted. Drain. Carefully, cut away large rib.
3. Remove duck from marinade.
4. Tear off a piece of plastic wrap about 20 inches long, and lay it across a work surface. Place cabbage leaf down. Roll duck breast, lengthwise into cylinder, and place cylinder of cabbage leaf. Roll leaf around breast. Trim edges, and roll tightly into plastic wrap. Roll both ends of wrap to secure shape and tie with kitchen string. Refrigerate packets until ready to cook.
5. Meanwhile, combine the sugar with the garlic and ¼ cup of water in a small sauce pot. Stir, over high flame just until the sugar dissolves. When the sugar begins to caramelize and turns a deep amber color, add the vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar re-dissolves (it will seize up with the vinegar is added)
6. Cook marinade in a covered sauce pot over medium flame until carrots are tender. Puree the vegetables with a little bit of the wine and add about 1/2 - 1 cup to the balsamic sauce (taste after adding 1/2 cup and add more to taste). Swirl in chocolate and set aside in a warm place.
7. Toss plums with shallots and thyme. Season with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Mix with prunes
8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add duck packages and cook for 8 minutes, for medium/medium-rare. Remove from water and let rest for a few minutes before removing the plastic and slicing.
9. Serve with asparagus and celeriac puree
3 knobs celery root (celeriac)
½ - 1 cup cream
salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste
Peel celery root. Cut into 1/8th. Put in a pot of cold salted water. Boil the be-jeebies out of it. When tender, drain. Put in a food processor, and puree with approximately 1/2 cup of cream. Add lemon juice, 1 squeeze at a time, until it is seasoned to your taste. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.