Thursday, 30 August 2012

A Lad's Salad : Duck Salad with Fatty Croutons

I'm going for a slightly different angle on this one. So this came out of a combination of wanting to empty out some ingredients from my fridge left-over from the lab barbecue and wanting to do a recipe post about salad as opposed to strictly meat and veg on the side. OK, as you can see from the photo above there is definitely an abundance of meat here, but I hope that there are enough greens here to keep your mum happy!
Duck salad with fatty croutons

I first fried the skin-on duck breast. The best way to fry duck is to simply put it skin and fat side down on a dry frying pan pre-heated to a medium-high heat. The breast will release a LOT of liquid duck fat, which will help the duck cook itself. I even reused it later to make the croutons!

Once the duck skin is suitably golden coloured and caramelised on one side (just don't call it a ''Mallard'' reaction...arf, arf), which should be about 6 minutes for a thick piece, the breast can be turned over. The duck breast should then be simply cooked to taste (a meat thermometer is pretty useful here - about 60 degrees is good for medium). Just make sure the skin does not blacken too much. Once cooked, it should be removed from the pan (reserving the fat in the pan), covered in foil and left to rest for a further 4-5 minutes.

Whilst the duck breast is resting, I cut up some stale sourdough (again leftovers) into cubes and fried them at a low-medium temperature in the frying pan, still containing the duck fat. The sourdough cubes should just soak up all the liquid, leaving the pan almost completely dry and the bread slightly soft, whilst remaining nice and crunchy. This can also be done with olive oil (if you want to remain on first name terms with your GP!)

Just before serving, I prepared the salad bed. I mixed some rocket and spinach with my fingers in a bowl and placed it, in a slight nest shape in the serving plate. I then studded the salad with pieces of feta cheese, the fatty croutons and pomegranate seeds. I finally placed the duck breast on top of all this...voila!

Minty Pea Puree

This was inspired by the Mint and Peas dish I had at Dabbous, although this is obviously no where near as exquisitely prepared. I measured out the peas on a scale and reserved a quarter of them for later. The remaining peas were then boiled until very soft (basically until they collapsed in my fingers), whilst still retaining their flavour. After draining out the water, I added some butter and some salt and pepper. I then used a hand blender to puree the peas until they formed a dry paste.

I then added a glassful of chicken stock, mixed it until it formed a thick sauce and brung it to the boil. I then added the reserved whole peas from earlier and simmered it until the peas were tender, adding further stock if the paste was too dry. When cooked, I added some finely chopped mint leaves to the mixture.

Left To Right: Burnt Aubergine, Feta Cheese, Minty Pea Puree

Burnt aubergine with feta

I got this recipe from the ''Plenty'' book by Yotam Ottolenghi. I simply put a large aubergine, poked with many holes in order to prevent pressure build-up, on baking paper under the oven grill for one hour until it basically deflated and collapsed. After it became cool enough to handle I scooped out the soft puree-like flesh, mixed it with some extra virgin olive oil and some feta cheese.

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