Duck Rillettes with Cherry Mostarda and Pistachio

Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, St. Helena, CA
From Chef Stephen Barber

The acidity of most Napa Valley Pinot Noirs cuts through the richness of the duck and the cherry flavor accentuates a Pinot's bright fruit.

Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, toasted and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 star anise, crushed
  • 4 whole sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 tablespoon minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 4 whole duck legs (about 1¾ pounds), trimmed
  • 1 pound duck fat
  • 2 shallots, minced (½ cup)
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Cherry Mostarda (see recipe below)
  • ½ cup pistachios, roasted and shelled
  • 1 French baguette, sliced 1/4-inch on a bias, drizzled with olive oil and toasted
  1. In a medium bowl, mix 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons peppercorns, celery seed, star anise, minced thyme, parsley, and 4 bay leaves-- finely crumbled. Rub the duck legs all over with the mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. With the rack in the middle position, heat the oven to 250 degrees. In an ovenproof pot, over medium-low heat, melt the fat.
  3. Rinse the duck legs and dry well. Add the duck, thyme sprigs, and remaining bay leaves, cover, and cook in the oven until the meat is very tender and the bones twist out easily, 4 to 5 hours.
  4. Remove the duck legs and cool until barely warm. Remove and discard the skin and bones, then shred the meat and set aside. Reserve the duck fat.
  5. In a small skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the fat and sauté the shallots until softened, about 3 minutes.
  6. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the duck meat, 1/3 cup duck fat, shallots, stock, and 1 teaspoon pepper on low for 30 seconds. Adjust heat to medium-high and beat until fully combined and smooth, about 45 seconds, stopping to scrape down the bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
  7. To assemble, spread duck rillettes on toast and top each slice with 2 teaspoons cherry mostarda and a pinch of pistachio.

Chef Note: This recipe is basically duck confit beaten into rillettes. When the confit is made, strain the still-liquid fat through cheesecloth and save any leftovers. Duck fat will keep refrigerated for one month. Duck legs and duck fat are usually available at Whole Foods.


Cherry Mostarda

Mostarda will keep for 2 months refrigerated.

Makes 4 cups

  • 2½ cups dried cherries
  • 1½ cups pinot noir wine
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine cherries, wine and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the wine and water has reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, add the sugar, mustard powder, mustard seeds and red pepper flakes. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Allow to cool, then cover and let steep for 24 hours at room temperature. Transfer mostarda to a jar and refrigerate.

Wine Pairing

Pinot NoirPinot Noir