Seared Duck Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette…

Duck breast is king. When I go to a restaurant and see it on the menu, I am very hard to convince not to order it. My girlfriend takes sick pleasure in this, taking me places with it on the menu and watching me undergo a mental battle over the duck breast or the lamb chops, salmon, risotto, etc. It is my kryptonite. But why? It’s just poultry. Then I think longer and it hits me.  It’s not JUST poultry, it’s the best poultry there ever was. If it was a car, it’d be a Shelby Cobra, not overly known by everyone. But everyone who does know about it holds it close to their heart. As for cooking, the duck breast was meant to be seared. That generous fat cap is meant only for one thing, rendering.

The second best part of searing duck breast (first being eating a piece with a crispy piece of fat) is saving the rendered fat for cooking. If you want to step it up on your sauces or even fancy up your veggies, toss a teaspoon of that in there. Your taste buds will thank you.

Salad dressing is something people are afraid of. I don’t know why. People are astonished to find I make my own dressings. I look at them like they’re un-evolved chimpanzees. Dressing is quite honestly one of the easiest things to make in the kitchen. Juicing fruits takes more effort. There’s only one rule to remember about a vinaigrette, and that is “3:1”.  Three parts oil to one part vinegar. Done!

Olive oil, macadamia nut oil, herbed oil, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic, tarragon, apple cider, red wine, etc. The details don’t matter as long as you follow the rule. Any other additions are purely for flavor and don’t affect the ratio. I add Dijon for thickening and tartness. You can add a shallot for a sweet onion flavoring. Experiment in small batches to find your favorite vinaigrette.

Seared Duck Breast Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

4 duck breasts (2 come per “breast technically”)
salad of your choice, or just spinach
Garnish (I chose roasted beets)
dressing: see below

In a stainless steel pan, heat on medium high. Using a sharp knife, make slits in the fat. Be careful as not to slice the meat itself. Make a cross-hatched pattern. This allows more of the fat to render out and become crispy. It helps to hold the knife at a 45 degree angle and not straight vertical when slitting. When the pan is very hot, add the breasts fat side down.  Cook for 5 minutes, until skin is crispy and golden brown. Flip and cook another 1-2 minutes. Duck breast should be served medium rare, but you can cook it another 2 minutes to make it well done, although I don’t recommend it.

Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. You can make the dressing at this time.

Dressing:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T champagne vinegar (note: this is a 4:1 ratio because of the added bulk of the shallots. 3:1 still works, but I wanted it a bit thinner)
1/2 shallot, coarsely chopped
1/2 t sugar
salt and pepper

In a Cuisinart, or other food processor, add all ingredients. Pulse on high and hold for a few seconds until well incorporated and emulsified. Taste for seasonings. Place in squeeze bottle and keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

 

 

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