Make this Duck with Oranges & Cauliflower Purée

Words: Crush

To honour Alto’s 100th year of winemaking history, chef Jacques Erasmus, of Hemelhuijs restaurant, has created a series of five delicious recipes, each paired with an Alto wine.

So far, we’ve created four stunning dishes, Beef Carpaccio with Rosemary Straw Fries, Crispy Pork Belly with Vermouth-Soused Prunes, Karoo Lamb with Rocket Butter and Seared Tuna with Miso Caramel. This fifth and final recipe is this series is the pièce de résistance and showcases beautifully cooked duck breast with local oranges and cauliflower.

Cook Something Special for your Dinner Party with Alto Wines

Duck is not as easy to come by for home cooks as other proteins but there are suppliers at local organic markets and speciality delis that can source for you. It’s a wonderful meat to work with and if cooked properly, should yield crispy skin with well-rendered fat and tender, juicy meat. Don’t be afraid to work with this protein, when done right it’s so worth it. The sweetness of oranges balances the gamey flavour and the cauliflower adds a creamy element.

Chef Jaques Erasmus, “Duck is rich and complex meat and the addition of oranges makes it a real winter hero.”

Serve this dish with Alto MPHS, the flagship wine in the Alto collection. On the nose, you will find dark fruit Cabernet Sauvignon, with elegant red fruit Cabernet Franc notes and well-integrated wood spice. This wine has well-balanced fruit, structure and acidity.

“The meaty richness of the duck works beautifully with the structure of the wine and the creamy softness of the cauliflower adds richness to the pairing,” chef Jaques Erasmus.

Grilled Duck with Oranges and Cauliflower

Serves: 6
Difficulty: easy-moderate
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes


6 oranges, peeled (blood oranges if you can find)
100 g light brown sugar
pinch of salt and white pepper
olive oil to drizzle

Cauliflower Purée

2 medium heads of cauliflower, rinsed and roughly chopped
100 g butter
50 ml milk
2-3 drops of truffle oil
grated nutmeg to taste (or a dusting of dried nutmeg)

Duck & Red Wine Reduction

6 duck breasts
salt and white pepper to taste

2 tsp (10 ml) fresh thyme, finely chopped
200 ml quality red wine
1 clove of garlic, bruised


Preheat the oven to 200 ºC.

Cut the peeled oranges in half and place into a small, deep roasting tray.  Sprinkle with the sugar, white pepper, salt and olive oil and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until soft and slightly shrivelled.

Cauliflower Purée

Place the cauliflower into a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Cook over medium heat for 25-30 minutes until soft. Drain the extra water and then add the butter, milk, truffle oil and seasoning and blend until smooth. Add little more milk to make a smooth soft purée.

Duck & Red Wine Reduction

Score the duck breasts and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Heat a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and cook the duck breast, skin side down, for 8-10 minutes until the fat is crisp. Turn and cook for a further 4-5 minutes.

Remove the duck and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Pour the fat out of the pan and into a dish and set aside.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine and add the clove of garlic and simmer to reduce the liquid by half. Add a tablespoon of the reserved duck fat, remove the garlic clove and blend the mix with a stick blender to emulsify the wine reduction.

Cut the duck into slices and serve on the cauliflower purée with the oranges and a spoonful of the red wine glaze.

Two handy tips to remember when making this recipe:

– Cook the duck on the fat side first and sear on the other.
– Be sure to rest the duck for 10 minutes before slicing.

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