I recently had a crispy duck salad in a local restaurant, Clancy’s and I was mad to try to make something similar at home. It was proper crispy, shredded duck. I was under strict instructions when making this to make sure it was really crispy. Got that? Crispy.
I went researching through my bookshelves and came across a recipe in Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes for a duck and watermelon salad. The way he described the cold watermelon with the hot duck sounded divine. So I adapted the recipe to my own tastes and I’m glad to say it is a great combination. In his recipe he roasts the duck until cooked and then chops it up and adds to the salad. This was not quite what I was looking for so I went a step further and fried up the shredded meat. Doing it this way also means that you can roast the legs the night before you want them, put them in the fridge and then when you are ready to assemble just shred the meat and fry it up. If you like you can skip this and just use the duck straight from the oven.
Useful tips & links:
- Domini Kemp has a recipe for a duck salad in her book Dinner where she recommends keeping confit duck from a good deli on standby and simply warning it through when you want to use it. So feel free to go down that route if you want.
- If you want to make this salad in the winter and can’t get fresh watermelon, you could use pink grapefruit instead. I will try it with that next time. Just remember that you will lack the sweetness of the melon so you might want to add some honey to the dressing to balance out the flavours. You could add mint to this salad – I’m not a big fan – or add more chilli to give it more of a kick.
Crispy Duck and Watermelon Salad
- 2 duck legs
- Salt & pepper
- ¼ of a watermelon – approx. 250g of cubed flesh
- Seeds of ½ a pomegranate
- Salad leaves – here I used a prepared bag with rocket, watercress and baby spinach.
- 4-5 spring onions
- ½ a red pepper
- ½ a medium red chilli, finely chopped
- Juice of ½ a lime
- 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce
- 2 tsp of fish sauce
- A small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 40g cashew nuts
- Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/ gas mark 4.
- Remove any excess skin or fat from the duck legs and score the skin. Season with salt and pepper, Place the legs on a rack and put the rack on a baking tray. Roast for approx. 1½ hours or until the skin is crispy and the meat can be easily pulled away from the bone. You can reserve the duck fat that has collected on the baking tray for roasting potatoes.
- Using 2 forks pull the meat away from the bone and shred it finely. Set to one side.
- While the duck is roasting, heat a large, dry non stick pan over a medium-high heat and toast the cashew nuts until they turn a golden brown colour. Set to one side.
- Dice the watermelon into bitesize cubes and put them into a bowl.
- Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Some recommend holding the halved pomegranate over a bowl and bashing it with a wooden spoon so that the seeds just fall out. I have never found this to be successful – the seeds don’t just fall out and you end up with dark red juice everywhere! Or maybe that’s just me. I squeeze the pomegranate and that seems to loosen the seeds. Any remaining stubborn ones can be just eased out with your fingers. Make sure to discard any of the white pith that might end up in the seeds. Mix the seeds with the watermelon and put them into the fridge to chill until ready to serve.
- Finely slice the spring onions and red pepper and mix them with the leaves.
- Prepare your dressing by putting the chilli, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce and coriander into a bowl together. Whisk it all well together and taste to see if you need to add any more juice or soy sauce. Add a nice pinch of the black pepper. It should not need any salt. If the dressing tastes slightly sharp, remember that you will be mixing it with the watermelon and pomegranate so it will be sweetened by this.
- Put the pan that you used to toast the cashew nuts back onto a medium high heat and heat a tablespoon of oil. You want the pan to be big enough so that it will take the shredded duck in a single layer. Tip in the meat and leave it to fry for few minutes until it darkens and becomes crispy.
- Pour the duck meat onto some kitchen paper to drain.
- While the meat is frying, add the watermelon and pomegranate mixture to the salad leaves and pour in the dressing. Use your hands to mix everything well together. Tip in the hot duck meat, quickly mix it all in and plate it immediately.
- Sprinkle over the toasted cashew nuts and serve.