Confit Duck Salad
This pretty salad releases its flavors in bursts: the sweet-sour strawberry-balsamic sauce, bitter sorrel and arugula, silky duck, and the duck’s spicy coating. Although the duck cooks in fat, the process leaves the meat tender but not greasy.
- Confit Spice Mixture
- Cardamon - 1 tablespoon, ground
- Nutmeg - 1 tablespoon, ground
- Cloves - 1 tablespoon, ground
- Dried Thyme - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Ginger - 1 tablespoon, dried, ground
- Bay Leaves - 6, ground to powder in a spice grinder
- Duck Thighs - 4
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Rendered duck fat - 2 to 3 cups
- Strawberry-Balsamic Sauce
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Balsamic Vinegar - 3 cups
- Strawberries - 1-1/4 pounds, hulled and pureed
- Corn Oil - 1/2 cup
- Green Bell Pepper - 1, peeled, seeded, deribbed, and julienned
- Red Bell Pepper - 1, peeled, seeded, deribbed, and julienned
- Yellow Bell Pepper - 1, peeled, seeded, deribbed, and julienned
- Jicama - 1, peeled and julienned
- Caramelized pecans - 3/4 cup
- Strawberries - 6, sliced
- Chow mein noodles - 1 cup, deep fried until crispy
- Fresh mixed greens - 2 cups, including baby sorrel and baby arugula
To make the spice mixture: Combine all ingredients.
To make the confit: Rub the duck thighs with olive oil and coat with the spice mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons of the duck fat in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat and saute the duck thighs until browned on both sides, about 5 to 8 minutes. Put the thighs in a deep pan large enough to hold them in a single layer and cover with the remaining duck fat. Cook over medium-low heat at a bare simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Remove from heat and cool; cover and refrigerate up to 2 days in the fat (confit can be kept, refrigerated, for much longer if desired).
Clean the fat off the duck thighs and pull the meat from the bones, shredding it into bite-sized pieces.
To make the sauce: Put the sugar in a heavy saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the sugar melts and begins to turn amber, 320 to 328 F on a candy thermometer. Do not stir; brush away any crystals which form on the sides of the pan with a damp brush. Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully add the balsamic vinegar; be alert for splashing and bubbling. The sugar will seize into a clump. Reduce the heat to medium and return the pan to the heat. Stir gently with a whisk until the sugar dissolves again. Cook until reduced by half in volume. Stir in the strawberry puree and cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Puree with the oil until smooth.
To serve: Build the salad in a bowl large enough to toss all ingredients. Put the duck pieces in the bottom of the bowl and add all but 1/4 cup of the sauce; toss the pieces in the sauce with your fingers. Add the peppers and jicama and toss again. Add the pecans, strawberries, and noodles; toss again. Add the greens and toss again. Place handfuls of mixed salad on each plate. Drizzle the edges of the plates with the reserved sauce.