Duck with Vanilla and Black Peppercorn Sauce

Roasted duck is spectacular to prepare, cook and serve. The richness of the roasted duck with its crispy skin pairs wonderfully with the sweetness and mild heat of the vanilla bean peppercorn sauce. Enjoy this roasted duck with Papapietro Perry Zinfandel used in the sauce or with your favorite Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir!


3 T. unsalted butter
3 shallots, minced
1 vanilla bean
2 T. unsulfured molasses
2 t. fresh cracked black peppercorns
2 c. duck stock (or strong homemade chicken)
1½ T. cornstarch or arrowroot
3 T. Zinfandel
½ c. Madeira
2 - 5 lb. ducks
salt and pepper to taste

In medium saucepan, melt 1 T. butter over low heat. Add shallots and sauté slowly until soft. Add vanilla bean, molasses, peppercorns and duck stock and simmer 15 minutes. Strain and return sauce to pan with vanilla bean that has been split lengthwise and the seeds scraped out and put into saucepan as well. Blend arrowroot with 3 T. Zinfandel. Whisk into sauce base and simmer 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened. Set aside. May be made ahead to this point.

Season duck cavities with salt and pepper. Pierce skin around lower breast, back and thighs. Truss duck and place breast side up on rack in shallow roasting pan. Bake at 425 degrees 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and roast duck 30 minutes then turn over to other side for 30 more minutes. Remove fat with bulb baster as ducks roast. Turn duck breast side up and roast 10-15 minutes longer for medium rare . For well done, cook until juices run pale yellow. Remove trussing, place ducks on heated platter and set in oven to finish sauce. May be roasted in morning, if desired and reheated at 300 degrees 30 minutes before serving.

Add ½ c. Madeira to defatted roasting pan and scrape brown bits from bottom and reduce liquid to 3 T. Strain into prepared sauce, simmer 2 minutes and swirl in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Remove vanilla bean before serving. Sauce can be completed earlier in day and reheated at serving time. Serve with Papapietro Perry Dry Creek Zinfandel.