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In my “former life” as a private chef, I was always on the lookout for new main course salads. This one is simply one of the best salads I have ever had the pleasure to make and enjoy! I have adapted the recipe from Gourmet Magazine. My husband and I used to make our own duck confit every fall following the instructions in “Mastering The Art of French Cooking Volume Two” by guess who? J. C. and Simone Beck I would encourage you to make this if you have the time, it’s so delicious and keeps very well in the fridge covered with duck fat!! I always froze the fat for another duck confit making adventure. Now the juices are flowing….maybe it’s time to make some again! And…I know our friend Boris would love to receive a container full again!
Makes 4 Servings
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
5 Tbsp. EVOO
2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot
Salt & pepper to taste
For the Salad:
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 confit duck legs
2 – 3 firm-ripe pears (preferably red skinned & local in-season)
8 cups mixed greens that includes baby spinach
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1 cup Shaved fresh fennel (opt.)
Preheat oven to 180 F.
Whisk together the mustard, vinegar & salt & pepper to taste in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in 4 Tbsp. of the oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified, then whisk in the shallot. Set aside until ready to assemble the salads.
Toast the walnuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally until fragrant & lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.Transfer the nuts with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain & season with a bit of salt. When the skillet has cooled down wipe out any of the nut bits.
Heat the skillet with a tiny bit of oil on moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown duck on all sides until the skin is crisp, about 5 minutes. Or alternatively do this step in a 400 F. oven. Transfer the duck legs to a cutting board & remove the meat from the bones & tear into bite-sized pieces, discard bones. Keep the duck warm, covered, on a baking sheet in a 180 F oven.
Halve & core the pears (a melon baller works like a charm for this task); cut the pears lengthwise into ¼” thick slices. Mound some greens on each of the four plates, combine the pears, duck, cheese & nuts with the dressing, season with salt & pepper to taste. Mound the pear/duck mixture on top of the greens & serve the salads immediately.
NB: we purchase ready-made duck confit legs from Oyama Sausage at Granville Island.