The recipe’s inspiration comes from a trip to New York City last year while I was also preparing for some pop-up dinners in New Jersey. On one of my free evenings, I attended a grand tasting of Greek wines hosted by New Wines of Greece.
There, I was able to sip on some of Greece’s best and nosh on appetizers as prepared by some of New York’s best Greek restaurants. One of the appetizers was “duck baklava”, tender duck meat wrapped in rolled phyllo pastry and served with a sweet and savory cherry sauce.
I love this appetizer’s play on baklava, it was inventive and daring. The Duck Baklava was created by Chef Chris Christou of Nerai in New York City and I encourage to drop in for a bite at Nerai to try this and many other inventive dishes there.
My version is different but I assure your guests will love this appetizer at your next dinner party. First off, you may want to source some pre-cooked duck confit: that’s duck leg/thigh thats slowy cooked in the oven. The fat from the duck slowly melts and self-braises until the meat is fork-tender. You can always confit your duck legs as well.
The filling also contains mushrooms, spices, some cream and a smoked Greek cheese called Mestovone (from Metsovo). A smoked Gouda will work splendidly here. Next you’ll need phyllo pastry which is now widely available at grocery stores. It’s no longer “ethnic”..it’s a common pantry item (YAY)!
The final component is the sour cherry sauce: a combination of veal stock/demi-glace, sweet Mavrodaphne wine, thyme and sour cherry preserve to add some sweetness to the sauce.
(makes approx. 100 appetizer sized bites)
1 package of commercial phyllo (thawed overnight in fridge)
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onions
3 cloves minced garlic
1 lb. white mushrooms, finely chopped (you may pulse in a food processor)
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup Metaxa (or brandy)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 cups of pulled duck confit meat (approx 5-6 duck legs)
2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated smoked Metsovone (or smoked Gouda) cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Mavrodaphne Sour Cherry Sauce
2 cups demi-glace (veal stock or you may use chicken stock)
2 cups Mavrodaphne wine
5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 – 1/3 cups Sour cherry preserve
1 tsp. corn starch dilluted in 3 Tbsp. cold water
- In a large, skillet, add the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, garlic, bay leaves and mushrooms and sweat while occasionally stirring for 5-6 minutes or until softened. Season with some salt and pepper and now add the brandy, cream and stir in until absorbed. Now add the duck meat and stir in and warm through for 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the allspice, cinnamon and adjust seasoning with salt and fresh ground pepper (be careful with the salt as you will be adding cheese soon) and remove from the heat and allow to cool (transfer to a bowl to cool quicker). Remove bay leaves, add cheese.
- Add eggs and cheese to duck mixture and stir until well incorporated and reserve.
- Remove your thawed phyllo from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (15 minutes). Remove from the package and place under a slightly damp tea towel to cover. Melt the butter and olive oil in a small pot.
- Take a sheet of phyllo and place it horizonatally (longest side) on your work surface. Drizzle with melted butter/oil over the phyllo and place a 2nd sheet of phyllo over it. Drizzle with more butter/oil.
- Now spread a line of duck meat mixture along the bottom, leaving a 1 inch gap on the bottom and 1/2 inch gap to each side. Roll up the bottom to cover the filling then fold in the sides. Now carefully roll up the phyllo and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or baking tray.
- Repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo (you should have eleven or twelve rolls of duck baklava. Brush the top with melted butter/oil and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove from the freezer and use a sharp knife to cut the phyllo in half. Now cut again into half and then each piece into three, giving you 12 bite sized pieces.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F and baked for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Take out of the oven and allow to rest. Cut through phyllo again with your knife to ensure pieces are separated.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium pot and bring up to a boil then reduce to half the volume. Add sour cherry preserve, stir in then add corn starch slurry until thickened. Take off the heat.
- Serve your duck baklava (reheat in oven in batches) on a platter with with drizzled sauce and garnish with sour cherries, greens.
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