In the world of one-dish meals where everything gets sliced, diced, cooked, then stacked upon everything else, the composed salad is a refreshing venture. It requires no oven pre-heating, is healthy and bright, and when adorned with colorful fruits and vegetables, dresses up a table when guests visit.
A salad doesn’t always need protein to be delicious, but when you want to make a meal out fresh greens, you’ll need something to make the dish more fulfilling. My protein of choice for salads? Poultry. But when the idea of another chicken salad grows old or I have people over, I go a little bigger. I go duck.
When tossed with a thyme and shallot salad dressing, Parmesan buttered croutons, and topped with duck, citrus and avocado, a salad becomes an impressive, yet simple feat. When choosing citrus for the salad, select sweet, multi-colored varieties. I used Dutch crunch bread for the croutons, but you can use challah, or whatever high quality fluffy bread you like.
You’ll end up serving each person about six ounces of duck, so plan your buying according to weight, not breast quantity – you can mix and match breasts on the plate. The directions for searing the duck may seem unorthodox, but packing on the salt will help to develop crispy skin and render much of the fat.
Duck and Citrus Salad
5 ounces Dutch crunch bread, torn into small and medium-sized pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 ounces Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
1 1/2 pounds duck breast
3 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
12 ounces sweet citrus fruit, untrimmed (no lemons)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 small shallot, mined
2 tablespoons fruit vinegar
zest of an orange
7 ounces salad greens
1 avocado, sliced lengthwise
Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add bread and toast for five minutes, shaking plan occasionally to evenly brown. Add butter, lower heat to medium-low and cook until the croutons are golden brown. Turn off heat. Sprinkle almost all the Parmesan over the bread and mix, scraping the bottom of the pan to combine the cheese bits with the croutons. Pour the croutons on a sheet pan, being careful to collect all the cheese and sprinkle them with the remaining Parmesan.
Facing the duck breast on a cutting board flesh side down, lightly score the duck skin diagonally 4 or 5 times two ways, being careful not to cut into the flesh. Salt and pepper the skin- not the flesh- liberally, using nearly all 3 tablespoons of salt. Place the duck in a cool, heavy bottomed sauté pan, skin side down. Turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Leave at least 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan, but pour off excess fat while cooking into a dish and set aside. Flip the breast and cook for 10-15 minutes on the other side, until the flesh is browned and the breast starts to firm.
While the duck is cooking, peel the citrus. Slice into quarter-inch thick rings. Cut some in half. Mix the thyme, shallots, orange zest and vinegar in a small bowl.
When duck is finished cooking, remove from the pan and let sit. While resting, pour the vinegar mixture into the sauté pan. Add 2 tablespoons of the fat back into the pan, and scrape the browned bits from the bottom to make a vinaigrette. Add more fat to taste if necessary.
Put greens, croutons, and vinaigrette in a bowl and mix. Spread over four plates. Top with the citrus and avocado. Slice the duck and lay over the salad. Serve immediately.
duck, one-dish meal, salad
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