Monday, June 9, 2008

June 9: Duck and Pear Salad with Mango Chutney Dressing

Holy Cheebs, it is hot. It is really nasty awful hot, sticky, gross, and awful. I can't think of enough bad things to say about the weather. I do not care for hot weather.

I want to eat duck maybe twice a decade, and when I do, it's usually in this salad, or some variation of it. I love smoked duck breast; you have to get it from a specialty market. I don't have a good source for smoked duck breast in the D.C. area. If you can't find smoked duck breast, get regular duck breasts. Use a very sharp knive to cut through the skin on the diagonal, making a diamond pattern. Don't cut the meat. Grill or pan-saute over high heat until the duck is medium-rare, or rare, or however you like it. If you like it well done, you should go eat chicken, because that is a terrible thing to do to a duck breast. Give it a short rest, five or ten minutes or so. Slice the duck breast 1/4-inch thick on the bias across the grain.

This is a gorgeous main dish summer salad, perfect for the awful weather we're having. I would sprinkle a few toasted, chopped pecans over, and maybe a crumble of good stinky bleu cheese--I love bleu cheese and pears. I would arrange all of this over a big pile of mesclun greens. Yum. It is adapted, of course, from The Silver Palate Cookbook.

Duck and Pear Salad with Mango Chutney Dressing

4 boneless duck breasts, boned or prepared as described above, cooled
3 cups cooked rice, cooled
1 cup chopped celery
4 scallions, well rinsed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
Grated zest of one orange
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 ripe but firm pears
1 cup lemon juice
Mango Chutney dressing (see below)

Remove the skin and slice duck breasts across the grain into 1/4 inch strips.

Toss the duck and cooked rice together ina mixing bowl. Add the celery, scallions, and orange zest and season with salt and pepper. Toss again and arange the salad on a large serving platter.

If the skin of the pears seems too thick or spotty, peel the pears. Otherwise, quarter, core, and thinly slice them, and toss them with the lemon juice.

Drain the pear slices and arange them across the duck salad. Serve immediately with the mango chutney dressing, offering the peppermill to your guests.

For the dressing:
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup blueberry or red wine vinegar
1/3 cup mango chutney
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup peanut oil
1 cup corn oil

Combine all ingredients but the oils in a food processor bowl. Process for 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in the oils in a slow steady stream. When all of the oil has been incorporated, shut off the motor, scrape down the sides of the bowl, taste, and correct the seasoning.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

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