Recipe: Fruity Crunchy Spring Salad with Duck

Let me just state up-front that I really do not know how to cook duck properly.  So I have no intention of telling you how to cook the duck, other than passing on the general hints given to me by the stallholder, which really very nearly almost worked.

The salad, however, was lovely and perfectly spring-like, and should be recorded.  You can eat it very happily without the duck, too.  I suspect that strips of any suitably marinated meat, or of marinated tofu or mushrooms, would be lovely with this too.

Sadly, I was having a bad photography day when creating this recipes, so I apologise in advance for the rather dubious photos.

ducksalad1

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70 g mixed lettuce leaves
3 spring onions
150 g strawberries
1 blood orange
50 g pistachios
4 slices pasta dura bread
150 g asparagus (weight after you have snapped off the ends)
olive oil
salt, pepper
2 duck breasts

 

Now what will you do with it?

Tear up the salad leaves, and put in a large bowl.  Slice the spring onions and strawberries, and add to the bowl.

lettuceonion

Peel the blood orange and divide it into segments, capturing as much juice as you can in a small bowl for the dressing later on.  Put the segments into the salad bowl.

orange

Toast the pistachios with a little salt in a dry frying pan that will be large enough for the duck later.  Chop them and add them to the salad.

Make the croutons.  Start by slicing the crusts off the bread and making cubes.  Spray them or brush them with olive oil and either bake them at 180°C, turning them once or twice and keeping a close eye on them so that they don’t burn, or you can toast them in a frying pan until they are golden.  Add them to the salad bowl.

croutons

Slice the asparagus into lengths of about 3 cm.

Now prepare the duck.  You want to trim the fatty dodgy bits off the underside, but keep the skin.  Wipe down the frying pan, first, and don’t add oil, because if you’ve never cooked duck before, you have *no idea* just how much fat will be rendered from the duck.  No idea.  Set the pan over medium-high heat, and put the two duck breasts in, skin side down.  I was advised by the duck man to then just cook the breasts, skin side down, until the pink-brown of the meat had reached about 2/3 of the way up the duck, and then quickly turn the duck over to finish; this left it a little rare for my taste and I wound up quickly pan-frying the duck again after slicing it up, for about twenty seconds, which was plenty, and maybe even a bit much!

duck

Set the duck aside to rest for at least five minutes on a plate lined with paper towels.  Pour off most of the duck fat (which you might, if you like, keep aside in a little bowl for roasting vegetables at a later date), leaving just a spoonful or so in the frying pan. Actually, I started pouring off some of the fat as I cooked the duck, but in retrospect, this may have been a mistake, as it meant that not all of the skin rendered.  Sauté the asparagus in the remaining duck fat until it is bright green with a few little browned bits.  (If you are doing this salad without the duck, just sauté the asparagus in olive oil, which is in some ways even better.)  Add the asparagus to the salad.

asparagus

Add a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper to your blood orange juice, and whisk together.  For some reason, this emulsifies spectacularly well.

dressing

Pour this over the salad, and toss.  Divide the salad between three plates (we only did two plates, and it was all far too much, especially the duck!).

saladclose

Slice the duck, and lay the slices on top of the salad on the plates.  Serve!

ducksalad3

Variations

This recipe is not quite perfect yet. I feel it needs something to marry the duck to the salad a bit better, but I’m hesitant to add anything that has even *seen* a speck of fat, because this duck is *insanely* fatty.  So definitely not mayonnaise, then. Perhaps the duck wants to be marinated in blood orange juice and pomegranate molasses up front?  Ideas are welcome.

This recipe is, obviously, not vegetarian, though the salad is pretty amazing alone.  It would be gluten-free with gluten-free croutons, and is fairly low GI, just because it’s reasonably low in carbohydrates generally.  Oh, and it’s dairy and egg-free, I only just noticed.  And it’s entirely rich enough without them, though this makes me think that a lovely vegetarian variation might to be to use grilled haloumi instead of duck.   Yum.  Oh, and you can skip the pistachios for a nut-free variation.

ducksalad2

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One year ago: Show-off post: Imbolc Wedding Cake for Rhiannon and Reed
Two years ago: Anzac Biscuits for (nearly) everyone
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3 responses to “Recipe: Fruity Crunchy Spring Salad with Duck

  1. A couple of things: you want to prick the skin of the duck breasts all over and make sure the pan is on a very high heat when you put the duck breasts in, then turn it down. These both help rend out a lot more of the fat. Some recommend slashing the skin rather than pricking. A little coarse salt rubbed in also helps. Draining the fat as you go is good, and keep it for roasting potatoes: almost as good as goose fat.

  2. I can’t believe I only thought of keeping the fat after it was too late!

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