“Tom Kevill-Davies wrote a book called The Hungry Cyclist and he’s married to Aude Bonnetain, whose family make excellent Burgundy in Auxey-Duresses. In his book, this is what he had to say about grape picking: ‘For all its “bucolic romance” picking grapes in Burgundy is back-breaking work. Seemingly endless days are spent bent-double, snipping at grapes while you steadily hike uphill. The work is relentless and monotonous and the high point of each day is lunch,” Rick Stein tells in his latest book, Rick Stein’s Secret France.
“Served at a communal table back at the domain, this is a moment to drink, recharge and refill. Four courses are served generously and washed down with unprofessional amounts of wine, before everyone staggers back into the vineyards for the arduous afternoon shift. As well as working in the vines herself, day after day, Aude’s mother miraculously rolls out faultless four-course feasts for the 20-strong team of dog-tired workers slumped around her table.
“Her food is exceptional and a standout dish among the loyal workers, who return year after year, is parmentier de confit de canard. Unctuous, filling and restorative, it has legendary status among the team.”
Duck cottage pie
- 4 Confit duck legs
- 4 shallots chopped
- A few fresh thyme sprigs leaves stripped and chopped
- 175 ml red wine
- 200 ml chicken stock
- Handful flatleaf parsley chopped
- 800 g potatoes cut into 5cm chunks
- 100 - 125 ml warm milk
- 150 - 200 g Comté cheese grated
- Salt and Rick’s peppermix, or black pepper
- Warm the confit duck legs over a gentle heat to release the fat, then pour the fat into clean jam jars. You will need some for this dish, but save the rest for roasting potatoes another day.
- Remove the skin from the duck legs and discard it or slice and roast as a nibble. Pull away the duck meat with a couple of forks and shred it, removing and discarding any bones and gristle.
- Heat two tablespoons of the duck fat in a pan, add the shallots, thyme and half a teaspoon of peppermix or plenty of black pepper. Allow the shallots to brown gently and once they are golden, add the wine and stock, then bring to the boil.
- Cook for a few minutes, then add the duck meat and the chopped parsley. Stir and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 210°C/Fan 190°C. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 20–25 minutes until tender. Drain them well, then add the warm milk and mash until smooth. Season with salt and a big pinch of peppermix or some black pepper.
- Grease a baking dish measuring about 18 x 28cm with duck fat. Pile in the meat mixture, then cover with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and bake for about 25 minutes until heated through and browned on top.
- Serve with a green salad, green beans with garlic and fried breadcrumbs or carrots à la fermière.
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