He Likes Duck Fat

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Potatoes fried in duck fat, with garlic & parsley, a very fresh green salad (with not a leaf of lettuce in sight) topped with a little bit of duck breast – a perfect lunch for this blessedly rainy Sunday.

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Obviously, he thought so too (and had an intense lemon tart with coffee for dessert).

This meal is characteristic of improvised cooking; you know, cooking without a recipe based on what you’ve got. We had a breast of duck left from a roast and duck fat just rendered from that same roast, and potatoes, of course. That calls for potatoes in duck fat, reminiscent of Pommes de Terre à la Sarladaise, a dish named after the town of Sarlat in Southwest France. While one variations on this homey dish includes truffles, the poor woman’s version (mine) makes do with garlic. Don’t knock it off until you’ve tried it: duck fat makes the best fried potatoes. As far as the green salad, it was a mix of mache, sorrel, baby red Russian kale & Tuscan kale, and frisée endive, fresh from the garden. Any good-quality store bought mesclun will do; make sure it’s on the robust side so it can take the hot dressing, and with a hint of bitterness or tartness to stand up to the richness of the potatoes.

End of Winter Salad with Duck Breast & Potatoes in Duck Fat

Lunch for two

Ingredients

  • 2 handful of mixed salad greens per person
  • 1 to 3 Tablespoons duck fat
  • 2 large potatoes, scrubbed clean, and sliced thinly
  • 1 roasted duck breast, with skin on
  • 2 cloves of garlic, degermed and finely minced
  • parsley (at least 6 sprigs – more to taste), finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Arrange the greens on two plates, leaving some room on the sides for the potatoes.
  2. In a cast iron pan, melt 1 T duck fat over medium hight heat, add the potatoes and cook until golden brown at the bottom- 5 minutes or so. Turn, careful not to break the slices, so that the uncooked slices are now at the bottom. Do this several time, preventing the potatoes from burning – maybe 20 minutes – adding more fat if necessary. The inside of the potatoes should be soft, and the outside crispy. Turn the heat off, add the garlic and the parsley, turn carefully and leave in the pan while finishing to assemble the salad. Don’t put the garlic any earlier or it will burn.
  3. Meanwhile – about 10 minutes after you started the potatoes, heat up another small cast iron skillet, and add the duck breast, skin down. Cook until lightly charred, turn over and cook a few more minutes until just warmed through. Transfer to a cutting board, slice and arrange the sliced breast on the greens. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and water, scraping to get the attached bits. Add the oil. Whisk and pour on top of the duck and greens.
  4. Add the potatoes to each plate.
  5. Tuck in.

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(apologies to iamnotachef for the title borrowing)

Note for the locavore log: the greens. I wish I could say the duck was local, but while it was bought from the E-Cow, it came from Indiana. If any of my readers know of a Virginia (Northern, Piedmont or Central) source for ducks, please post it in the comment section

15 comments

  1. Vanille says:

    He likes duck fat too ! C’est ce qui donne le goût, n’est-ce pas ?
    Bon, pour le canard, je passe mon tour…

  2. El says:

    You know, Sylvie, we raised 3 ducks last year and it was pretty easy. They were those monster white Pekins. It took 8 weeks from them to go from egg to freezer…something to consider, anyway. They lived with the chickens and had their own wading pool. They were really messy (liked to make a huge mess of the drinking water so I had to change it 2-3 times a day) but otherwise really tasty!!! That’s a year’s worth of ducks for us but I can’t agree with you more on the pairing of duckfat with potatoes…yum!

  3. sylvie says:

    El – ducks may well be next year’s husbandry project. 8 weeks only???!!! whoa. My parents raised ducks when I was growing up (still do), and I hope we can find several different breeds, some are a lot meatier than others. We’ll see (they are great for slug control too!). And at some point, I need to have ducks given the name of the place….

  4. Ed Bruske says:

    Sylvie, in the course of researching a story on roasting ducks for the Wash Post some years back I collected an enormous amount of duck fat. I hate to say that we never got around to using it and my wife made me get rid of it. I wish I had it now….

  5. sylvie says:

    Ed, this hurts my thrifty side so…

  6. El says:

    Oh Ed! That hurts my tastebuds so! Ah well you know better now, right, especially considering your new-ish diet?

    Sylvie, I simply was going to mention the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/wtchlist.html#ducks if only because it gives you a fairly good representation of endangered breeds of ducks historically raised in this country. It gave me a fairly good idea of the type of duck we would probably raise in the future for both meat and eggs: the Ancona. The Pekins were the CornishX broilers of the duck world, good…but yeah, considering your farm name, you probably should get a duck sometime, right? ;)

  7. LinearGirl says:

    I don’t know of any local places to get a duck – are the supermarket ducks worth buying and cooking? I’ll check with a local butcher, too, but I don’t recall ever seeing duck there. Inquiring minds want to know!

  8. sylvie says:

    El: Thanks for the link. Definitively a resource I want to use.

    LinearGirl: When I was in the Washington DC area, WholeFoods stocked ducks and they were fine (the ones I ordered through the E-cow where the same: “Bell & Evans”). High end grocery store, butcher shops or Chinese markets are all good place to check. When buying from a supermarket, you do want to make sure the duck has not been injected with a saline solution (look carefully – it says so in the package): to me, the texture is not as pleasant. If there is a butcher – as opposed to just a meat case – you can always ask: many supermarket can custom-order for you (although you may have to get more than one; in my case I had to case a case – 6! – but they’ll be eaten. They came frozen, so there’ll be no rush).

  9. Laetitia says:

    Duck fat makes anything taste good!.. Oh boy do these potatoes look good!

  10. virginia says:

    Sylvie,
    A friend brought me a duck and a goose from a recent hunting trip. They are both in the freezer waiting for my culinary attention. What can I do with them other than simply put them in a pan and roast as they are? I’d love to try the breast & potato recipe but need
    to cook the bird first.

  11. sylvie says:

    Hello Virginia. The only time I have had wild ducks was when a friend of mine went hunting and was very successful. He brought back (lots of) ducks and ask if we wanted some – they were whole and had to be gutted and plucked. They were small and I ended up turning them into a terrine (or Pate) – which was delicious, I have to say. Sausages would be good too. I think they have less fat than domestic duck (and the flesh is denser), so you probably need to be sure to cook them really fast or really slow. Anyway, I am not the best authority for wild ducks. You may want to check Hank’s blog at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook especially the wild duck/geese recipe page: http://www.honest-food.net/blog1/wild-game-recipes/goose-recipes/
    It’s a fascinating blog. extremely well written and wonderfully informative.

    Bon Appetit

  12. Lacey says:

    Once upon a time I was given a jar of duck fat. I treasured it and used it sparingly. Sometimes I dream of having more. Duck fat is divine to cook with!!!!

  13. […] and thinly sliced shallots; with sautéed onions and steak slices; with red onions and grapefruit; with duck and potatoes fried in duck fat… lots and lots of way to eat spinach in […]

  14. Vanesa says:

    I’m writing about duck fat today and I’d love to include your gorgeous picture of the duck fat in the spoon in my post. I wanted to take a similar shot but in the frenzy of cooking the potatoes, all our duck fat got used up! I am giving you a link back to this post as well as a caption to the picture, but please email me if you want me to take it down and I’ll do so immediately. I am so glad that google image search brought me to your lovely blog. Can’t wait to read more.
    Vanessa

  15. sylvie says:

    Vanessa – glad you liked the photo. Since you credit & link back, I have no issue with you using it in your post. And you are right that duck fat & potatoes mix most happily (goose fat is good too). Duck fat lovers of the world, unite!

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