Collaborating with Pierneef à la Motte’s executive chef on a recipe for JAN the Journal Volume 2, it reignited my passion for duck. Unlike chicken and turkey, duck isn’t easily overpowered by strong flavours, so you can really indulge in sweet, fruity flavours for the sauce and sides; flavours that complement duck like coconut complements pineapple, peanut butter complements chocolate and salt elevates caramel. And unlike chicken (a flightless bird), the breast is richer than the thigh, which I personally prefer for its more intense flavour and fleshiness. The lingering notes of cinnamon and star anise in this dish always transport me back to the Cape Winelands, where my lifelong journey with South African wine first began.
Just as my heritage has had a huge impact on my work as a chef, it also defines the prestigious La Motte Wine Estate in more ways than one. Under the ownership of the Rupert family, who acquired the estate in 1970, the farm has become a shining example of South African heritage. They rehabilitated the estate’s historic Cape Dutch landmarks and acquired the legendary South African artist JH Pierneef’s personal collection of artworks and linocuts created between 1908 and 1955.
And like the artist himself, the restaurant Pierneef à la Motte – established in 2010 – draws a lot of inspiration from the South African landscape and our cultural diversity as a nation. Recently, the restaurant welcomed Eric Bulpitt as its new executive chef, whose rustic, less-is-more approach to South African heritage cuisine reconnects the restaurant to the original spirit of the French Huguenot settlers who arrived in the Cape during the 17th century.
2 duck leg portions
30 ml Maldon salt
15 ml soft brown sugar
5 ml ground cinnamon
125 ml red wine
6 small plums
red wine plum sauce
250 ml red wine
60 ml plum jam
30 ml soft brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
150 g French green beans
salt and black pepper
Start by preheating the oven to 180 °C. Heat a non-stick frying pan and sear the duck leg portions on both sides until they turn a golden brown.
Remove the duck from the pan and let it cool. Meanwhile, mix the salt, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Rub this mix into the duck on both sides.
Pour the wine into an oven dish, letting it cover the base of the dish. Place the duck portions in the dish and cover with tin foil. Place it in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
Halve the plums and remove the pits. Then, remove the dish from the oven, remove the foil and arrange the plums around the duck portions.
Place the dish back in the oven (without the foil cover) and bake until the duck skin is crispy and the plums are soft.
red wine plum sauce
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring.
Lower the heat and let the sauce reduce to half. It should be thick and sticky.
Boil the beans in water for about 3 minutes. Then, drain and season them with salt and pepper. Arrange the beans on a serving plate, placing the duck portions on top of the beans.
Arrange the plums and fresh blackberries on the plate and drizzle some of the sauce over the duck. Serve the rest of the sauce on the side.