Warm Duck Breast Salad with Blackberries
Adapted from Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes (Ten Speed Press, 2009)
The recipe for this deliciously sweet and savory duck salad comes from the 2009 James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, by Jennifer McLagan. "Duck is often paired with fruit, and although this combination is often too sweet," writes McLagan, who adds that in this dish, "the acidity of blackberries strikes a perfect balance with the rich duck meat."
- 2 boneless duck breast halves, about 8 to 10 ounces each
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large orange
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup port
- 1 1/3 cups blackberries
- 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
- 3 cups frisée
- 2 cups watercress
Remove the duck breasts from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Score the skin in a crosshatch pattern, cutting through the skin and fat, but not the meat. Season both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.
Finely grate the zest of the orange and set aside. Squeeze enough juice to measure 1/8 cup.
Place a heavy frying pan over high heat. When it is hot, add the breasts, skin side down. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan with a splatter screen, and cook for 5 minutes. Pour off the fat, set aside, and continue to cook breasts, skin side down, for another 5 minutes.
Pour off any excess fat, turn the breasts over, and cook for another 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts. To test doneness, press the meat side of the breast with your finger; it should feel soft and spongy. Transfer the cooked breasts to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan. Add the shallot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened. Add the port and bring to a boil. Deglaze the pan, using wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. Add the orange zest, juice, blackberries, and wine vinegar, lower the heat, and simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced and the berries are warm and softened. Season with salt and pepper.
Cut the duck breasts into thick slices. Toss together the frisée and watercress and divide among 4 plates. Top with the sliced duck breast, and pour the warm sauce over the dish.