nov3When we asked Robert Graham, the new Executive Chef at the Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria, for a special seasonal recipe from our Food Is Art file, he didn’t hesitate to send this mouthwatering dish along. Sweet and delicate, it holds a special place at his holiday table.

You can find more great holiday ideas from Sonesta at #SpiritofSonesta.

Duck l’Orange Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Serves 4


  • 2 duck legs
  • 2 cups duck fat
  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 ripe bosc pears
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1/8 cup white wine
  • 1/8 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 package store bought sweet potato gnocchi from Whole Foods, Central Market, etc
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 orange sliced into 5 slices
  • 1 bunch watercress


  1. Prepare the duck confit. Combine salt, parsley, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in a food processor and make a green salt. You will have extra for another time. Rub each duck leg with 1 tbsp of the green salt and let sit in the fridge for 8 hours. Preheat an oven to 225 degrees. Rinse the duck legs and put in a casserole dish that is just big enough to fit the legs. Pour the duck fat over the legs to cover completely and bake very gently for 2-3 hours or until the duck meat falls from the bone. Once cool enough to handle remove the skin and bones and shred the duck meat. Reserve.
  1. Prepare the buerre blanc. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, quarter and core the pears. Toss the pears with some olive oil and roast in the oven until tender and caramelized. About 30 minutes. Puree the pears and set aside. Combine rosemary, white wine, white wine vinegar, shallots and peppercorns over medium heat and reduce until almost dry. Add the heavy cream and reduce until very thick. Slowly whisk in the butter until all is incorporated. Strain this and whisk in the pear puree to taste. Season with salt. Set aside in a warm place.
  1. Sauté the gnocchi over medium high heat in a little butter until browned. Add the shredded duck and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  1. Place a little of the buerre blanc on the 4 plates. Divide the gnocchi and duck confit amongst the plates. Top with crumbled blue cheese, orange segments and watercress. Enjoy!!