Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Duck and Crisp Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Have I mentioned a few dozen times how much I love duck? Fresh Market has nice breasts that are big enough that P. and I can usually split one. (Duck breasts, people. Behave.)

I've told you before that my pitiful pretend kitchen doesn't have anything remotely resembling a vent-a-hood. I think the "vent" is actually powered by one of those little fans that go on those novelty pith helmets that you see people wearing at Disneyworld.

So given my current stove (left), I always cook duck breast outside on the gas grill in a cast-iron skillet. I put the skillet on there, crank the heat way, way up, and go inside for a while. I like it around 600 or so for this. Then I slap the seasoned duck breast in skin-side down, put the lid down and go inside again and close all the windows.

The weather has warmed up now, and a big, heavy duck dinner didn't sound good. So I opted for a duck salad, which sounded perfect. Crisp oven potatoes, olives, and some hearts of palm added more substance. My lab rat Pootie declared this one a keeper. So here you go:

Duck and Crisp Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette 
Serves 2

1 - 8 oz duck breast (or two smaller ones), salted and peppered, and skin left on
Cross-hatch the duck skin with a knife (makes a criss-cross pattern)

1 medium shallot, minced
1 Tbs. olive oil

3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. dijon mustard
1 large pinch salt
1 large pinch sugar
cracked black pepper
8 Tbs. olive oil or salad oil

1 idaho potato or 2 medium yukon gold potatoes, medium dice (skin on)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
cracked black pepper

1/4 cup chopped pancetta
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 cups torn red leaf lettuce, or other firm green lettuce
1/2 cup sliced hearts of palm
1/4 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted

Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the diced potatoes in the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, until crisp and browned.

For the dressing, in a small pan, sauté the minced shallot over medium heat in 1 Tbs. of olive oil until soft. Place in a small bowl. Use the same pan, add the other Tbs. of olive oil and sauté the chopped pancetta until browned. Set aside.

Add the mustard, vinegar, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, and a few grinds of black pepper to the bowl with the shallots. Whisk in the salad or olive oil. There. Dressing is done.

Put a cast iron skillet on a gas grill and preheat to about 600F, or turn on your jet engine powered vent-a-hood and heat a cast-iron skillet over medium high to high heat. I'm warning you, it's a godawful mess inside. Grease everywhere. Anyway, when the skillet is hot (on the grill or in your soon-to-be grease-covered kitchen), put the salted and peppered and scored duck in skin-side down. Cook until duck skin is crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip the breast and cook the other side. For rare duck, which is what I like, cook about 3 minutes. If you like yours medium or rare, cook longer. Remove from skillet and let rest on a cutting board for about five minutes.

In a large bowl, add the lettuce, hearts of palm, olives, potatoes and pancetta. Toss with the dressing. Add to your taste - you may not need all of it. Slice the duck breast on a slant across the grain. Split the salad into two servings and top with the duck.

Shopping List:

Green leaf lettuce
2 medium yukon gold potatoes (or 1 large idaho/russet)
1 shallot

1 large duck breast
Pancetta (usually in the deli)

Oil cured black olives
Hearts of Palm (usually in the jarred stuff with salad dressings and such)
White Wine vinegar
Dijon mustard
Olive oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

For a printable, .pdf version of the recipe and shopping list, click here.


Phillip Reid said...

Never noticed the nice breasts at Fresh Market except yours, but I will look more closely next time. Thanks for the heads-up.

Pam Anderson said...

You talk about the greasy kitchen mess when cooking duck breasts, but I have memories of grease fires last time I grilled duck breasts. Any special grill tips?

Pam Anderson said...

P.S. It's 6:40, I'm starving, I went on Twitter and clicked your link. I'm really hungry now. Yum.

Andie Reid said...

Pam, I've found if I use a cast-iron skillet, instead of just putting the duck straight on the grates, I don't have issues with fire. I wind up with a skillet full of duck fat, but it doesn't drop down and catch fire.