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Cabernet Sauvignon Pairings

Recipe Contest Winner John Wells' 

Seared Duck Breast with Fig Pepper Glaze

serves 6-8
The essential key to duck is to cook until the breasts are done to medium rare or medium at most. Over-cooking means a loss of the delicious natural juices and flavor. Serve the finished breasts on a bed of mashed cauliflower. The best way to prepare this recipe is with a glass of Amavi Cellars Semillon on hand.

    4 duck breasts with skin
    JDub Rub Mix (or your favorite mild meat rub)
    3 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
    2 tablespoons butter
    3 tablespoons fig preserves or jam
    2 tablespoons chili pepper jam/jelly (Tabasco or similar)
    Dash Worcestershire

  • Wash duck breasts, pat dry and allow to come to room temperature. 30 minutes prior to cooking apply rub to both sides of breasts. 
  • Using a cast iron skillet, melt butter and saute shallots until clear. Remove and reserve shallots. 
  • With pan hot, place duck breasts skin side down. Sear until skin is crispy but do not allow to burn. This will render the delicious duck fat into the pan. Turn breasts and sear other side until well browned.  
  • In bowl, combine fig preserves and pepper jam and stir together with dash of Worcestershire.
  • When breasts are done to medium rare, remove and set aside. Deglaze the pan with a liberal splash of Amavi Cellars Semillon and return shallots to pan.
  • Return breasts to pan, skin side up and spoon fig preserve mix over each breast. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let breasts cook only briefly to a medium doneness – dark pink inside.
  • Serve on a bed of the mashed cauliflower. Top with juices from the pan.  

JDub Rub Mix (just toss these together)
    6 tablespoons coconut sugar
    2 tablespoons sweet paprika
    3 tablespoons sea salt
    1 tablespoon white pepper
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon ginger powder
    1 tablespoon fennel, ground
    2 tablespoons thyme (dry)
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Mashed Cauliflower
    1 head cauliflower, stems removed
    1-2 cups chicken stock (just enough to cover the cauliflower)
    3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
    2 tablespoons butter
    1/4 cup cream or half-and-half
    1 tablespoon dill, dried or finely chopped fresh
    1/2 cup grated cheese (my favorite is French Comte, but Gouda or white cheddar will do nicely) 

  • In medium saucepan, cook cauliflower and garlic in chicken stock until florets are soft.
  • Drain well and return to saucepan with low heat. Add butter, cream, dill, white pepper and salt.
  • Mash together with potato masher. Adjust seasonings to taste. Fold in cheese. 
  • Serve immediately when cheese is melted.


serves 6-8
    1 lb country-style spareribs (or pork shoulder, cut into 1-in thick pieces)
    1 lb mild or medium pork sausage (cut into 1-in thick pieces)
    2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced, plus one whole clove
    2 whole sprigs fresh thyme, plus 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
    1 lb bacon (slab is best), cut into 2-inch pieces
    1 large celery stalk, chopped
    ½ medium carrot, peeled and chopped
    Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    4 cups chicken broth
    1 cup white wine
    1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juice
    2 bay leaves
    2 (14-ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup course bread crumbs
    2 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Place spareribs in a heavy pot with half the onion, half the minced garlic, and the thyme sprigs 
  • Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 1½ hours
  • Remove the ribs; set aside
  • In the same pot, over medium heat, brown the bacon and sausage
  • Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat and add celery, carrot, salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and the remaining onion and garlic (minced and whole) and cook for 1 to 2 minutes
  • Add broth, wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, and beans. Bring to a simmer, then add the cooked ribs
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix olive oil, bread crumbs, and parsley
  • Sprinkle bread-crumb mixture over cassoulet and bake for 1 hour, uncovered, occasionally pressing bread crumbs into the cassoulet to thicken
  • Let cool and serve