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Duck salad with orange and pomegranate

duck breast

These flavours always strike me as wonderfully Christmassy - certainly, this would be an easy and elegant starter for a Christmas dinner.


Serves 4 as a starter


2 duck breasts

1 tbsp fennel seeds

2 oranges

1 tbsp hoisan sauce

4 handfuls of mixed salad leaves - rocket is a good inclusion

1 pomegranate


For the dressing

1 tbsp EV olive oil

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp hoisan sauce

1 tbsp runny honey

1 tsp red wine vinegar

orange juice


Mix together the fennel seeds, 1 tbsp hoisan sauce and the chopped zest of one orange for a marinade. (Squeeze the juice from the rest of the orange to use later for the dressing.)


Score the skin of the duck into a criss-cross pattern and massage the marinade into the skin. Cover and leave for at least an hour (overnight is fine, in the fridge).


When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the duck breasts skin-side down in a dry pan (preferably one that can also go in the oven) and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes to render the excess fat from beneath the skin. When the skin is golden brown and there is a good puddle of fat in the pan, they are probably ready.


Pour off the fat (keep it for cooking roast potatoes later), turn the duck breasts skin-side up and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes. It is important not to overcook them - you are after juicy pink meat - so keep an eye on them and reduce the time, or temperature if your oven is particularly ferocious.


Remove from the oven and wrap immediately in foil. This allows the meat to relax and stay tender. Leave in the foil until you are ready to serve. They will stay warm for a good half hour, but the salad is equally nice cold, so you can cook them up to two hours ahead of time.


Remove all the skin and pith from the second orange and slice the flesh thinly. Cut open the pomegranate and remove the seeds (don't do this whilst wearing anything white, it is impossible to avoid getting red-purple juice all over you).


Divide the salad leaves and orange slices between four plates or shallow bowls. Mix together all the ingredients for the salad dressing and add the orange juice a bit at a time, to taste.


Slice the duck breasts thinly and divide between the bowls. Toss gently with your fingers, pour over the dressing, scatter the pomegranate seeds on top and serve.

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