A Warm Duck Salad

My daughter flew down for a long weekend and we wandered out to the mall for the first time since November. Amazing, but I can’t say we were all that surprised to find few customers and even fewer with shopping bags. Of course, it’s nearly spring so the department stores have their summer wear on display. Which means no sale racks. Or at least no sale racks until they grasp there will be NO SALES at all if they don’t reduce prices. I really feel for them, but feel for the rest of us more.

The one area we did splurge on this weekend was food. Are you finding that too? We went to a couple of our favorite restaurants; one was crowded (Saturday night), one was not (Sunday night). I don’t think it has occurred to them yet to consider cutting prices a bit. My daughter tells me some New York restaurants are doing just that- even the higher end restaurants. Smart of them. Florida is still hosting spring breakers until Easter, so it probably doesn't count. The dining-out shock may not hit us until after Easter. Hard to gauge anything in vacation land. Wait until the long, hot summer is upon us. That’s when I will start to worry about some of my favorite restaurants.

All this boring penny pinching means we aren't eating out as much and doing more home cooking; so I say this is a great chance to sample a few new recipes, which is even more fun when family is here to share. I have been dying to try a duck salad which I printed out ages ago and while my daughter is visiting, it's the perfect time to sample it. Because she is a foodie she loves trying something new and I get immediate feedback which is great. I love new salad recipes.

It's a simple enough recipe and everything went smoothly until the first bite. Oh oh. It looked beautiful. The duck was absolutely delicious. But we both agreed the dressing was a disaster- tasteless, bland and it didn’t compliment the dish at all. This salad has oranges and raspberries along with the duck and it badly needs some oomph in the dressing. I recalled a lovely salad I used to make with watercress and oranges. It had a perfect dressing, so I dug it out, compared the two and found the only difference was my old recipe added a little honey and Dijon mustard. Well it made all the difference. So I have rather re-invented the recipe to share with you. It makes a wonderful luncheon salad-pretty and unusual- and now that I have perked up the dressing, very flavorful.

Warm Duck Salad

2 boneless duck breasts, skin on (about 12 to 14 ounces each)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 heads Belgian endive
3 ounces mache or other delicate baby lettuce
6 oranges, peeled and cut in sections
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
1 cup toasted whole pecan halves

Place the duck breasts on a foil-lined sheet pan, skin side up. Sprinkle with salt and roast ina 400° oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the fat and skin on top and slice the duck. Mix together the salt, shallots, sherry vinegar, zest, olive and vegetable oils, honey and mustard. Tear the lettuces and slice the Belgian endive diagonally in 1/2 inch slices. Place in a salad bowl, top with the orange sections, raspberries and toasted pecan halves. Add the sliced duck. Gently toss with the dressing.
Serves 4.

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