The weather in the UK this last few weeks has been typically British: unpredictable and wet. The recent rain has at least meant that we haven’t had to do as much watering of our allotment (although we still have to water in the polytunnel), but the flip-flopping between hot, dry spells, and muggy, wet weather can provide good conditions for some plant diseases which we’d rather avoid. Still, it seems that cherries have had a bumper year! I’ve definitely noticed wild cherries in greater numbers than I normally would and I bought some super juicy, sweet eating cherries from a farm shop last weekend.
Last week, I did my first Instagram live cookalong with Rumbie from UK Supperclubs. We asked people to vote between gooseberries and cherries for which ingredient they wanted us to use – and cherries were the runaway winner. We cooked up this luxurious lunch together while we talked about our favourite seasonal ingredients and growing your own vegetables. I had such a fun time cooking and chatting with Rumbie, and I’m looking forward to it being a regular feature that we’ll be doing every couple of months as the seasons change. If you fancy watching the video, Rumbie has shared it on her feed here so you can still catch it.
This salad was a definite comfort blanket in last week’s grey days whilst still being summery and seasonal. I’ve used smoked salt to warm and deepen the flavour of the duck, some crunchy croutons to soak up even more of the duck flavour and add texture, and a combination of fresh cherries and cherries warmed in leftover duck fat and a good slosh of port. The dressing comes together with some red wine vinegar to give it some acidity and Dijon mustard for a cheeky nod to the French – what can I say, they know how to make a great salad. The result is indulgent, rich, heart-warming, and delicious.
Duck Salad with Cherry & Port Dressing Recipe
Feel free to use these measures as a guide and change them as you wish!
- 2 duck breasts
- Olive oil
- Smoked salt
- Black pepper
- 1 cup cherries
- 1/2 cup port
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup Roquefort crumbled into pieces
- Your choice of salad greens (I’ve used beet greens and lettuce from our allotment and a few fresh peas sprinkled over, but watercress, spinach, and rocket work well too)
- Prep the duck in advance by scoring and seasoning with salt and pepper before gradually bringing up to room temperature. Place in a cold pan skin side down with a little bit of oil (you don’t need much as the fat from the skin will start to render out – you just need enough that it doesn’t catch to begin with). Place over a medium heat and listen out for a happy sizzle – nothing too aggressive or too timid. Cook slowly until the skin is nice and crispy, then sear on all sides before finishing off in the oven. Check regularly as the cooking time will depend on the size and shape of your duck breast – it’s done when the internal temperature is 52°C. Set the duck aside to rest under foil for at least 10 minutes.
- While the duck is in the oven, retain the duck juices in the frying pan and cook your croutons until nice and crispy. Set aside.
- Pour most of the fat out of the pan (save this for your best ever roasties later), but don’t clean completely. Put it back on the heat and deglaze with a generous glug of port. Add in about 2/3 of your cherries to warm them up slightly and get them nicely coated in the port and duck juices. Turn off the heat to finish your dressing with a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar, and honey and Dijon mustard to taste. The amount of honey will depend on the type/sweetness of your cherries, and the mustard is up to you. Start with half a teaspoon and taste to see what you like.
- Once the duck has rested, slice fairly thinly and plate up your salad. Start with your base of greens, and top with your sliced duck breast, drizzle over your cherries with plenty of the dressing, and finish with chunks of Roquefort cheese, fresh cherries, and your crispy croutons.
I hope you enjoy this salad and the beautiful cherries in season right now. As always I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe and if you ever have any questions feel free to comment below or reach out on the contact form or over on my Instagram @plotandlane
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