You can always expect a warm family welcome at Ambrosini’s, where Paul Ambrosini presides over the candlelit dining room while his brother Remo and nephew Matthew pay tribute to their Northern Italian heritage in the kitchen.
A mountainous region near Italy’s northern border, Lombardy has a strong Swiss influence evident in food that is rich, comforting and perfectly suited to winter, and traditional dishes like bresaola and gnocchi are still made in house.
These are accompanied by an excellent wine list that represents local growers as well as classic Italian regions. Thanks to the coravin system, some of the most premium offerings are even available by the glass.
In the kitchen Matthew puts his own twist on some of the Lombard classics including risotto, another regional specialty. His duck leg with porcini mushroom risotto is a regular on the specials board and he’s shared his recipe so you can cook it at home, too.
Duck Leg with Porcini Mushroom Risotto
Prep time: 45 minutes, Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours
- 10 duck marylands (with thigh bone and tip leg bone removed)
- 4 sage leaves
- 3 bay leaves
- 15 juniper berries,
- 1 cup rosemary (green needles only)
- zest of 2 oranges
- 2 tsp cracked pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 30 mL olive oil
- 50 mL brandy
- 1 large onion
- 1 stick of celery
- 2 carrots
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 onion
- 50 mL olive oil
- 1 kg arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup red wine
- 2.5 L chicken or vegetable stock
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- 0.5 g of saffron
- 100 g chilled salted butter
- Remove the thigh and tip leg bones from the duck marylands and marinate skin side down in a mixture of sage leaves, bay leaves, finely chopped juniper berries and rosemary, orange zest, black pepper, salt, olive oil and brandy. Leave overnight.
- Set oven to 160°c, remove all ingredients from marinade and set aside.
- Sauté the marylands (skin side down) in a hot pan on the stove with a little olive oil until browned, then repeat on flesh side and remove. Chop onion, celery and carrots into 2 cm cubes and sauté the vegetables using the duck fat remaining in the pan until they are soft (approximately five minutes).
- Return the duck legs to the pan skin side up, add leftover marinade and white wine and cook until two thirds of the wine has evaporated. Then add chicken stock until only the skin is exposed and cook in the oven for two hours – when a skewer pierces the flesh with ease, it is ready. If you want to crisp the skin further place the marylands under a grill for a minute, being careful not to let them burn.
- Remove the duck from the tray and purée all the juices and vegetables into a sauce – if it’s too thick at this point, add a little stock.
- While the duck legs are cooking, soak the porcini mushrooms and saffron in separate cups of warm stock.
- Finely chop the onion and sauté with olive oil and a small pat of butter until it is soft and translucent, add rice and stir for about three minutes. Drain the softened mushrooms, chop finely and stir them through, add red wine and cook on medium until two thirds of the wine has evaporated.
- Add the rest of the stock one cup at a time, constantly stirring until the rice is cooked but slightly firm in the middle (approximately 20 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper then add the saffron-infused stock and butter, stirring thoroughly to obtain a creamy consistency.
- Warm the plates before serving the risotto topped with a duck leg, sauce and a sprinkle of finely chopped Italian parsley.
Pair with a lovely Adelaide Hills pinot noir like the Barratt 2018 Uley Vineyard or a Piedmontese nebbiolo such as the Maretti Langhe 2018 nebbiolo.