Back in May of 2016 I had the pleasure of visiting Pierre Jean Villa at his property in Chavanay, a village that, uniquely, exists in both the Condrieu and Saint-Joseph AOCs in the northern Rhone. It was among the highlights of my jaw-dropping trip throughout Burgundy and the northern Rhone. I was fortunate enough to return in February of 2017, further stoking my love of this producer's wines and the region in general.
Villa trained at Burgundy's Clos de Tart before taking the reigns at Les Vins des Vienne, a collaboration between Yves Cuilleron, Pierre Gaillard and Francois Villard with the mission of reviving the vineyards of Seyssuel at the very northern tip of the Rhone wine region. In 2009 Pierre Jean started his eponymous domain with the goal of bringing a sense of Burgundy's elegance to the more muscular Syrah of Cote-Rotie and Saint-Joseph. He also makes tremendous Viognier from several holdings in Condrieu.
I've been not-so-patiently awaiting the ability to get Pierre Jean's wines locally for about a year and a half, but the time has finally arrived. With the wines firmly in my grip, it was time to cook up something to celebrate my experience with Pierre Jean and throughout the northern Rhone. I pretty much always default to regionally-inspired cuisine, so here's a relatively simple recipe to throw together that plays on the ingredients and flavors of nearby Lyon. Pair it with a Saint-Joseph or Cote-Rotie, and in the future I plan on posting recipes to pair with Condrieu and Saint-Peray whites, and more reds from Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Cornas.
Duck Lyonnaise with pan-roasted potatoes
Yields 4 servings
- 4 duck breasts, scored
- Pepper to taste
- 2 pounds small potatoes
- 1 white onion, thinly sliced
- 8 strips bacon, sliced roughly 1/2" thick
- Pinch of salt
- Chopped parsley to garnish
MUSHROOM CREAM SAUCE
- 8 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- Half and half as needed, roughly 3/4 to 1 cup
- Slice onions, roughly chop mushrooms, and slice bacon. Set each aside separately.
- Score the fat layer on the duck skin to help the fat render out. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cracked black pepper.
- Place potatoes in a medium pot with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and continue to cook about five minutes, or until potatoes are just soft enough to be easily pierced with a knife. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Pre-heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Melt butter, then add mushrooms. Once the mushrooms start to brown and soften, add salt and pepper. Continue cooking until mushroom are brown and somewhat crispy. Remove from heat and transfer mushrooms to a small food processor. Add about 1/2 cup of half and half then puree until fairly smooth, adding cream as needed to reach desired consistency.
- Using the same sauté pan, but set on low-medium heat, add the bacon and cook until the fat has started to render out. Add potatoes and onions, then continue cooking until everything is nicely browned and crispy. Taste for seasoning, adding a pinch of salt if necessary. This can be cooked in advance, then reheated in some of the duck fat while the duck rests.
- Place duck breasts fat side down in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Let the fat side slowly render and brown. Baste the duck occasionally, removing excess fat from pan as needed to avoid smoking. Once the fat layer has rendered out to your liking and the skin is nicely browned, turn the duck and finish cooking meat side down. Cook to an internal temperature of 135 degrees for medium-rare, then remove from pan and let rest three to five minutes.
- Optional: warm the potatoes, onion and bacon in duck fat.
Serve sliced duck over potatoes with a generous spoonful or two of mushroom cream sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley. Pair with Saint-Joseph, Cote-Rotie or other northern Rhone red wines.
The 2015 Pierre Jean Villa "Preface" Saint-Joseph shows the exuberant fruit that resulted from the warm vintage, but there's still nice spice and floral lift to round out the pleasingly juicy plum and black cherry flavors. This bottle benefitted from a brief decant and drank well over the course of several hours. It should only get better with a few more years of age.