Duck, Duck, Goose…Cooking Class at Phelan Segur

Authored by Christina Watt

Our first morning we drove up to St. Estephe to kick off the tour at Phelan Segur with a cooking class.  We pulled up at the very impressive Chateau where we were greeted outside the door by the chef, Jimmy, carrying a basket of beautiful fresh produce.  Over the course of the next two plus hours, we were treated to lessons by Chef Jimmy and translations by Edouard – oh, how we wished we had brushed up more on our French!  But we all managed to work together to produce a beautiful meal.

The Phelan Segur Crest.
The Phelan Segur Crest.

We started off by learning how to make the traditional French cannele – little carmelized cakes with a custard-like center – oh my.  They explained to us that what we had just learned to make was a very popular pastry that originated in Bordeaux – they were everywhere!  (See the kitchn for a great cannele recipe and a little history on this tasty treat.)

Getting started on the cannele.
Getting started on the cannele.
Our first cannele.
Our first batch! We have to get some of those little molds at home…

While the cannele were baking, we began working on our homemade pastry crust for our duck pie.  Turns out Bob has just the right precise and patient touch for making pastry dough.  Me?  Apparently I’m a little impatient, no surprise to those who know me well!

Bob and Jimmy working the pastry dough.
Bob and Chef Jimmy working the pastry dough.

In between turns of the dough, we prepared the duck.  We seared the breasts with chopped vegetables and cooked the legs to get two different types of meat, and created a jus (sauce) using the rest of the duck remains.  Chef Jimmy added wine to the pan to create the jus, lighting it with the flame from the stove.  And then he looked at me to try it.  I was convinced I would wind up with my hair on fire, but we managed to produce the necessary flame without incident.  (Bob was ready for it though – he actually filmed this part in anticipation.  He knows me too well.)

My first time...
Too much information?  It was definitely a first for us!
Keeping my hair away from the flame!
Keeping my hair away from the flame!
Jus in the making.
A delicious jus in the making.

My eyes about popped out of my head when Chef Jimmy plunked down a big slab of foie gras – at 11:00 am in the morning, no less!  From the smiles on our faces, he ascertained (correctly) that the we very much enjoyed foie, so he told me to cut three big slabs of it.  Thinking he’d be searing it for some sort of appetizer, I happily complied.  A short while later, I found myself placing those large slabs into the middle of our duck pies – clearly, a heart attack in the making!

I've died and gone to foie heaven.
I’ve died and gone to foie heaven.

Finally, we concocted a beautiful chocolate ganache, which I again attempted to hurry along – who knew it took so much finesse to get that chocolate to such a glossy state?

Getting there...
Getting there…
Bob concentrates on the dessert embellishments.
Bob concentrates on the dessert embellishments.

After a very informative and fun couple of hours in the kitchen, we enjoyed a tour with Edouard and a tasting with winemaker Fabrice Bacquey while Chef Jimmy put the finishing touches on our meal.

The tasting room.
The tasting room.

Next up – the final meal and the fabulous wines!

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