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Duck with red wine plum sauce


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.

La Motte’s Heritage

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.


Through their active lifestyles and seasonal migrations, ducks have developed lean, strong muscles. As a result, the flesh is rich in flavour, boasting a deep, red wine hue. Duck is usually chewier in texture than chicken and turkey, and because they spend a large part of their lives in cold ponds, lakes and dams, they are well insulated, meaning their flesh is usually richer, juicier and subtly sweet.

When cooked just right, you should be left with a crispy golden skin and juicy flesh. But beware: overcooking duck can result in a tough, overly chewy debacle – and a smoky kitchen – that no one at the table will easily forget. When it comes to flavouring your duck, you can really go to town with flamboyant sweet, sour and spicy flavours. In summer you can take full advantage of sharp, tart flavours like cherries, berries and stone fruit, and in winter, I like to go for mellow, comforting flavours like leeks and shallots – and of course, a tang of citrus from a perfectly ripe naartjie always elevates my wintry mood.



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

to serve

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.

to serve

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.

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