Photography: Courtesy Benovia Winery

Dazzle guests with this inviting, warming entrée from Valette restaurant and Benovia Winery.

Duck and pinot noir is one of my favorite pairings of all time! This recipe is fantastic because it showcases savory duck breast and a sweet, tart blackberry glaze that can be made during any season! A classic high-acid Russian River pinot pairs fantastically with the umami of the duck breast and berry notes of the blackberries.

— Dustin Valette, chef-owner Valette restaurant

Blackberry Glazed Liberty Duck

(with crispy confit, blackberries, and cocoa nib salad)

(Serves 6)

6 Liberty or locally farmed fresh duck (tenderloin and sinew removed)
1 pound duck confit (found in gourmet grocers such as Whole Foods or Dean & Deluca)
2 ounces cocoa nibs, crusted lightly
6 ounces toasted salted cashews
4 ounces pinot noir (Benovia’s Cohn Vineyard, preferred)
1 cup blackberries, fresh, washed
1 cup blackberry jam (recipe follows)
1 cup frisee salad, washed and cut into medium pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
Canola oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh, cracked pepper, to taste

Duck Confit

Start by removing cooked and chilled duck confit from the fat and dice the meat into medium-size pieces, removing the fat and bones. In a hot pan, add oil and brown the pieces. Be careful when cooking, as the confit tends to splatter oil as it cooks. Once golden brown, drain on a paper towel and hold in a warm area for later use.

Cooking the Duck Breast

Once the breasts have been cleaned start by making several slits across the fat. This will help release some of the fat as it cooks. Season with ½ of the crushed cocoa nibs, kosher salt and fresh pepper. In a medium pan over low to moderate heat, place a little oil, then add the duck, fat side down, and render the fat out slowly. This will take about 5 – 7 minutes over low to medium heat. Once the fat has turned a golden brown, finish cooking to rare to medium rare on the flesh side. When the duck is cooked, remove from the heat and brush on half of the premade blackberry jam. Allow the duck breasts to rest in a warm area for later use.


In a medium bowl, combine the warm confit, remaining cocoa nibs, fresh blackberries, cashews, and cut endive. Season with salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Begin by making a “swoosh” with the back of a spoon and a couple of artistic dots with the remaining blackberry jam. Place a little pile of the salad off to the side of the dish, then slice each of the duck breasts into 7 even slices and place on top the salad. Repeat with the remaining plates, then enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Photography: Courtesy Benovia Winery

Vintner and Benovia Winery co-founder Mary Dewane’s Benovia’s Cohn Vineyard Blackberry Jam

(Yields 6 cups of processed jam)

9 cups crushed blackberries
7 cups sugar
1 box fruit pectin

To prepare the jars and lids: First, you’ll need a canner with a rack, canning jars, and lids. Place the lids in soapy water, rinse, and place the jars in a canner filled with hot, but not boiling water. Do not remove the jars from the hot water until just before you are ready to fill them with jam.

(Mary’s note: I bring the water to a boil, turn it off, and then place the jars in the water. Since I like to use 4-ounce sized jars, I make sure that I have on hand at least a dozen jars, lids, and bands. Depending on the size jar you choose, the number you need will vary.)

To make the jam: Place the crushed berries and pectin into a saucepan with the burners turned to high heat. Bring the berries and pectin to a full boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture is boiling, allow it to boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. After one minute, you are ready to add the sugar and bring the mixture back to a full boil.  Allow this mixture to boil for another minute, stirring constantly.

To fill the jars: Remove the jam from the stove top and skim off any bubbles that you see in the mixture with a spoon. Immediately pour the jam into the hot jars, one jar at a time, using a measuring cup. Fill each jar to ¼ inch from the top, and clean any excess jam from around the jar's rim — essential for a good seal. Place the lid on the jar rim and loosely tighten the lid with the band — again, essential for a good seal. Place each jar on the canner rack when done.

To process the jam: Once you have filled all the jars, place the canner rack in the canner. The water in the canner should generously cover the jars and be at a medium boil. Keep the jars in the canner for 10 minutes over medium-high heat, so it continues to boil. After 10 minutes, remove and place the jars of jam on a towel to cool for 12 or more hours.

To check the seals: The lid will be indented a bit if it has sealed. If the jar is properly sealed, tighten the bands to seal the lid. The jars are ready to store or use.

(Mary’s note: To enjoy, I love creating my own labels and giving jars away to friends for the holidays. My labels read “Benovia’s Cohn Vineyard Blackberry Jam.” Yum!)

From the October 2017 Taste of the West issue.

For more on Benovia Winery, read our Taste of the West feature. For more Valette or to make reservations, visit the restaurant’s website.

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