May 13, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 6:57 pm

A few posts ago, I mentioned a pub meal I had that was really not as good as it should have been.

pub salad

This ‘duck breast salad with pomegranate and blueberry dressing’ was a great idea, but somehow had come out all wrong. The biggest problem was the duck breast itself. It was overcooked, but hadn’t had enough time on the skin side to make it crispy. Also, whoever had prepared it apparently hadn’t heard of the benefits of removing the tendon from a duck breast.

Ignoring the duck breast, the salad itself was ok. But, after a while, the dressing, which I think was pure honey, became overpowering. The sweetness almost worked against the tartness of the blueberries but it was a little too much. I felt it needed tempering.

Even though the execution of this dish wasn’t great, I totally loved the idea behind it and that’s why I wanted to try out a variation on it myself.

my duck salad

The duck breast was the easy bit. I’ve cooked those dozens of times before and I think I’ve got the hang of them now. I could also easily mimic the spinach-watercress-spring onion combo of the pub for the salad but the dressing was a bit more tricky. I wanted to keep some of the honey but find a way to lessen the intensity of flavour. On a whim, I took half my pomegranate seeds, juiced them in a blender, then strained the juice into the honey. After tasting the mixture, one thing was obviously missing. So i added a capful of rosewater to the dressing and also decided to dust the meat side of the duck breasts with powdered rose petals to give the dish a very noticable rose flavour.

I prepared my duck in the same way I always do. For a start I alsways get my duck from Manor Farm’s stall at Notting Hill farmers’ market or from Furness at Borough. The quality of meat at these two places is a lot better than most supermarket duck.

As for method of preparation, this one seems to be fairly reliable.

  1. Score the skin of the duck is a cross hatch pattern, with lines about 1.5cm apart. Try to cut as far as you can into the skin without exposing the meat.
  2. Rub a pinch of salt into the skin to help it crisp up nicely.
  3. Turn the duck meat side up and look for the white tendon. It’s a good idea to remove this as this is what makes the duck breast shrink when you cook it. I use a very small, sharp knife to do this, slipping the knife under the tendon and cutting it away. The difference you get from moving the tendon is very noticeable. The meat seems softer and jucier. 
  4. When you are ready to cook the duck, get a frying pan hot (I use the highest heat setting on my electric hob) and cook the duck skin side down 8 minutes, then turn it and cook it for 1 minute 30s skin side up.
  5. Rest the duck wrapped in foil for about 5 minutes before serving.
  6. When you’re ready to serve, cut it into thin diagonal slices for pretty presentation. Or don’t bother, and just eat it.

salad- aerial shot

If I haven’t just missed the deadline, I’m submitting thi post to Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Pat at Up a Creek Without a PatL. Several ingredients make it eligible to qualify. The salad leaves, the pomegranate and the rose petals would all be good reasons to enter. But, I’ve decided to use this post to draw attention to the humble blueberry, which I think is a much underused ingredient in savoury cooking. While it’s all over the place in the form of yoghurts and muffins, you don’t often see a blueberry sauce for venison or the berries used in salads like this.. This is a shame as blueberries have a superb flavour which goes really well with game.

So, next time you’ve got some duck or venison (or kangaroo for that matter) in the fridge, why not try out partnering it with blueberries? It’s a very tasty combination!


  1. Well I love duck and I love blueberries so this has combination to be a must-try for me!

    Comment by Julia — May 13, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  2. Would you believe, I’ve never cooked duck. It’s really expensive here. This sound delicious though; I’d love to try it.

    Comment by Kalyn — May 13, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

  3. Can’t wait to try it out myself.

    Incidentally, Waitrose in New Malden has all the posh crisps on sale atm - the Tyrell’s duck, game and orange flavour is to DIE for!


    Comment by S — May 14, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

  4. These are both really good ideas Ros. I’ve never particularly taken to blueberries because they don’t have as much of the sweet vs tart thing going on that I like in a berry, but actually it makes perfect sense to have them with something savoury instead. Good tip! I imagine they’d be good with venison too.

    Comment by Sophie — May 14, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

  5. This looks delicious. I love blueberries.
    I think we live in the same area of London - can you tell me if you have come across any stall/shop selling Daikon? its a chinese radish type thing!
    Great Big Veg Challenge

    Comment by Great Big Veg Challenge — May 15, 2007 @ 11:59 am

  6. Resting is the most important part. I’m always going on to dad about leaving his meat longer before eating, but it’s been hard as he’s such a gannet. But we’re getting there. Your food is looking better and better, Ros. We’ll make a pro chef out of you yet.

    Comment by Trig — May 16, 2007 @ 9:29 am

  7. Hey Ros,

    We need to clarify numbers for that lunch meet so if you could pop over to that tread and definitely confirm that would be great :)

    Comment by Schmoofaloof — May 16, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

  8. duck with blueberries and pomwgranate sounds delicious. I’m definitely going to try this soon. Lovely pics too :)

    Comment by mandira — May 17, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

  9. Julia: I hope you get a chance to try it. It’s a really nice combo.

    Kalyn: Its funny how duck is expensive where you are when most other things are so cheap. Want to swap a Gressingham Duck for a Maine lobster? ;)

    S: Thanks for the info, I’ll have to send Dad down there.

    Sophie: Yes they definitely are good with venison. I think the last time I made venison with blueberries was over a year ago though! I should do it again.

    Trig: You’ll change your mind about that if you see me trying to handle a knife! I think I’m the most cack-handed person in the world!

    Charlotte: I see you’ve got your Daikon now. I was going to recommend the Japanese centre but you seem to have found a better source.

    Schmoof: Trust my students to get in the way of that lunch meet. Hopefully I’ll make the next one.

    Mandira: Thanks for visiting the site. I hope the recipe works out for you.

    Comment by ros — May 20, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

  10. very nice recipe But….. the new presentation looks sad and tired. I would probably choose a brilliantly crisp rocket and red chard or even ( as the dressing is sweet) a young endive for the salad. The duck seems, in the picture, to be cooked to perfection but I wouldn’t serve on a flat white plate. I generally stick to small round white plates which have that slight basin and rim to contain the food. A super thick reduction or even blueberry coulis could then be used to decorate the plate. Great big sweeps of drizzle could be run around and across the whole dish. This sort of dish is, in a way, designed to be pretentious. I feel that you’ve been admirably modest with the presentation but should next time not hold back. Give the dish height (served on a smaller plate) rather than mass.

    Fabulous idea, great classic combination of sweet dressings with duck, I may just uses this recipe on my menu this week.

    Comment by richard Turner — March 11, 2008 @ 4:27 pm

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