Cooking Classes


Duck and Wild Rice Salad

This is what I would have been making for American Thanksgiving if I had been home alone.  It is decadent enough to feel like a treat.  I mean, how often do we cook duck?
I found this recipe on and made a few adjustments to suit what I had on hand.  It makes a wonderful main course salad for a casual dinner party.  It is a very 'brown' salad so you have to be careful with garnishes.  But the flavour is great.  I'll be keeping this on my 'go to' list.  One tip, be sure all the components of this salad are dry, even the rice.  The dressing is very light.  I think the next time I make this, I will quickly sear on both sides before putting in the oven.  Considering that the skin is removed to make the cracklings, I would like to see a nice crisp sear on at least one side.

Duck and Wild Rice Salad                   Serves 6-8 main course salads

For dressing
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon mild honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For salad
2 cups wild rice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
10 ounces sugar snap peas, green beans or asparagus, trimmed and halved diagonally
2 (14-ounces) boneless magret duck breast halves with skin
6 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 cup moist dried apricots, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
1 teaspoon salt

Make dressing:
Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a large bowl and let stand at room temperature while making salad.

Cook rice:
Rinse rice well in a large sieve under cold water, then drain.  Heat butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook onion, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.  Add rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Stir in water and broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until rice is tender, approximately 45 minutes.  (Grains will split open but not all liquid will be absorbed.)  Drain well in a colander and cool to warm before adding to dressing.  (Spread rice out in a shallow baking pan to cool faster.)

Cook vegetables and duck while rice is cooking:
Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cook sugar snap peas in a 4-quart pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.  Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water to stop cooking, then drain well.

Pat duck dry and season with salt and pepper.  Score skin in a crosshatch pattern and place duck, skin sides up, in a lightly oiled shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan.  Roast in middle of oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 120°F (for medium-rare), about 25 minutes.  Leave oven on.

Transfer duck to a cutting board and when just cool enough to handle, remove skin. Thinly slice skin (scored side down), keeping duck breast warm, loosely covered with foil. Bake skin in baking pan in middle of oven until very crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Cut duck breast halves in half horizontally (butterfly-style), then cut across the grain into thin slices. Add duck and any juices to dressing along with rice, sugar snaps, scallions, apricots, hazelnuts, and salt and toss gently to combine.

Just before serving, scatter crisp duck skin on top.

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