Jeff Smith’s rockin’ asian-inspired duck recipe to pair with Napa Valley merlot

Jeff Smith of Hourglass Vineyards - rocker, vintner, chef

Jeff Smith rocks – as guitarist with Wristrocket band.  Jeff believes rock ‘n’ roll is a creative outlet just like making great cabernet sauvignon at Hourglass Vineyards in Saint Helena.  And Jeff cooks – not only on the guitar, but in the kitchen too.  When I casually asked him what he likes to pair with his wines, I didn’t expect this creative recipe that wowed me for its high-toned flavors.  No wonder Food & Wine Magazine has featured Jeff’s recipes on its pages.

To start, Jeff pounds the duck breast, scores the skins and rubs them with the zest of mandarin orange, crushed garlic and nutmeg, and seasons with salt and pepper.  Marinate for 2-6 hours in the refrigerator.  Jeff cooks the breasts skin side down on low to medium heat for 20 minutes, removing the fat as its rendered, then finishes cooking on the other side for a few minutes.  The sauce is a cold fusion made with 1-2 tablespoons of mandarin orange juice, a little bit of the zest, 2 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce, grated ginger and minced jalapeno.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Jeff slices the duck and serves it over a bed of seasoned sushi rice mixed with minced chives, and tops it with the sauce.

Jeff pairs this dish with his Hourglass Blueline Napa Valley Merlot because when the acidity is just right, he says the wine can express a hint of mandarin orange.  He also believes merlot is the most versatile wine to pair with many cuisines such as this bold and spicy fusion dish.

For Jeff Smith, rock ‘n’ roll and big flavors go together.

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