Sondra Bernstein
Owner/Chef of The Girl & the Fig

Pan-Seared Duck Breast, Honey-Roasted Root Vegetables, Red Wine Gastrique

With Kamen Syrah

Owner Sondra Bernstein quietly opened The Girl & the Fig in 1997 originally in Glen Ellen, California. Slowly, people began to discover her distinctive take on rustic French cuisine. In 2000, she relocated the restaurant into more upscale quarters on the northwest corner of the Plaza in Sonoma in the historic Sonoma Hotel. Over the past fourteen years, The Girl & the Fig has made its mark in Wine Country becoming a favorite for both locals and visitors. Her wine list is dedicated to featuring only Rhone varietals and we are honored to have our Syrah available to diners.

Main Ingredients

Yield: 6 servings

  • 6 duck breasts
  • ½ medium yellow onion, cut in small dices
  • 1 celery stalk, cut in small dice
  • 1 large carrot, cut in small dice
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups duck stock (Chicken Stock can be substituted)
  • 1 cup Veal Demi-Glace (purchase at gourmet food store)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Vegetable Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons blended oil
  • 2 small celery root, peeled and cut into ¼-inch batons
  • 2 small rutabagas, peeled and cut into ¼-inch batons
  • 2 small parsnips, peeled and cut into ¼-inch batons
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Vegetable Directions

In a medium ovenproof sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of blended oil over high heat and sauté the celery root, rutabagas, and parsnips for about 6 to 8 minutes until they start to turn golden brown. Add the honey and toss the vegetables well to coat. Place the vegetables in the oven and roast until they are soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir to combine. Cover the vegetables with foil and keep warm.

Gastrique Directions

In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons blended oil and sauté the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic over medium-high for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables are caramelized. Spread the sugar evenly over the vegetables. Stir constantly to make a dark caramel, about 5 to 7 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar. (The sugar will seize up but will melt again after a few minutes.) Add the bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns. Let the vinegar reduce until almost dry, about 3 to 5 minutes, and add the duck stock. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add the demi-glace and reduce until the sauce holds a nice line on a plate, about 5 to 7 minutes. Strain the gastrique through a fine-mesh sieve, whisk in the butter, and set aside in a warm spot.

Duck Breast Directions

Score the fat side of the duck breasts, making criss-cross marks with a paring knife and being careful not to cut all the way through to the flesh. Lightly coat a sauté pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons blended oil and on low heat, place the duck breasts skin side down to render out the fat. (Do not overcrowd the pan; you may have to render the duck in two separate batches.) Continue to render until the skin is golden and crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Flip the duck breasts over and sear the flesh side, increasing the heat to medium-high and basting the skin using a spoon and the rendered duck fat. Cook the duck to desired doneness (135°F for medium rare). Remove the duck breasts from the pan and let them rest for about 5 minutes.

To Serve

Arrange the root vegetables in the center of 6 large, warm plates. Spoon the gastrique around the vegetables. Slice the duck breasts into 4 slices lengthwise, place the slices on top of the vegetables, and serve.

Reprinted with permission from Plats du Jour, the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country