On the rare occasion I've made no dinner plans of any sort, there’s a pretty good chance I can take a cheeky throw of the culinary dice and gamble I can knock something half decent together from what’s lurking in the fridge.
It’s full of all sorts of disparate ingredients including a whole shelf full of various, often esoteric, half used condiments and odd bits of veg and herbs in various states of usefulness.
Often the resulting dish may be functional at best, but every now and again I surprise myself and manage to throw something together that’s a bit more impressive. This smoked duck breast salad I cooked the other night was one such occasion.
If you don’t have one, I urge you to get your hands on a good, heavy grill pan. I've got a Le Creuset one and I frigging love it. Yep, it was expensive but I've had it for years and consider it an investment. Almost everything tastes better chargrilled with smoky, black lines etched across it, I use it all the time. True, its use is guaranteed to set the smoke alarm off, but what the hell. In the case of this recipe, I used it to char little gem lettuce and spring onions.
I used smoked duck breast from Trealy Farm and I've got to say it’s an absolutely superb product, but if you can’t lay your hands on any, you can get something similar in most large supermarkets.
Remember when I mentioned esoteric condiments? I present to you hawthorn jelly. If you haven’t got any, it makes no difference, use redcurrant, cranberry, blackcurrant or even blackberry jam, whatever comes to hand really. Any of these would go with duck.
Smoked Duck Breast Salad
1 x smoked duck breast, sliced
2 x little gem, halved lengthways
6 x spring onions, washed and top ends trimmed, leave the root end on.
Handful of new potatoes
2 tsp Hawthorn jelly
Maldon Sea Salt & ground black pepper
2 Eggs, soft boiled and shelled.
There’s not a hell of a lot of cooking involved here to be honest, the duck breast comes already cooked, so just needs slicing. It’s more a case of assemblage.
Add the new potatoes to a pan of cold, salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 12 minutes or until cooked. Drain and put to one side.
Get your grill pan nice and hot then brush the halved little gem and the spring onions with some olive oil and char for around 3 minutes a side till you’ve got some impressive looking lines scorched on.
Put your hawthorn jelly or whatever condiment you’ve found lurking at the back of the fridge, into a small frying pan with the capers and a good splash of the caper juice. Heat it over a moderate heat, stirring for a few minutes until it’s melted down into liquid.
Soft boil two eggs, shell and halve.
Assemble however you think appropriate. I reckon the potatoes at the bottom, with slices of duck breast artfully draped over, with the charred little gem and spring onions protruding here and there, plonk the halved soft boiled egg in the middle and drizzle the hawthorn-caper dressing alles uber da platz. Don’t forget to season with the Essex salt and black pepper.
And that’s that. Easy.