There are some really exciting ingredients about at the moment, pomegranates for one and I found some purple salad potatoes in my local greengrocer - who knew these existed! They taste slightly like a chestnut/potato cross, but not a great deal different to the more usual salad potatoes. They do however look cool and I am a sucker for something pretty. And on that note my pregnant wife demanded duck for tea....so racking my brains I came up with this unusual take on a middle eastern, wintery salad.
If you haven't used sumac before, its is a deep red, sour citrus flavoured spice that works well with fatty meats such as duck and pork. It is widely available so give it a whirl. Serves 2 generously:
Duck Breast - 2
Sumac - 1 tsp
Orange - 1
Pomegranate - 1
Honey - 2 tbsp
Rose Water - 2 tsp
Red wine vinegar - 1 tbsp
Extra virgin - 3 tbsp
Cumin seed - 2 tsp
Spring onions - 3, finely sliced
Radish - 8, finely sliced
Watercress & rocket salad mix - 50g
Fresh coriander - 50g, stems finely chopped, leaves a bit rougher chopped
Purple potatoes or another quality salad potato such as charlotte or pink fir apple - 200g
Gently scrub then boil your pots (in their skins in salted water until a knife is easily inserted with little resistance. Score the duck breast skin, season well with salt, pepper and the sumac. Place skin side down in a cold and dry non-stick frying pan and place on a medium heat. Allow the duck to slowly fry, rendering the fat out of the skin to leave it crispy and golden. This should take about 12 mins so adjust the heat accordingly and drain the pain of fat when necessary.
While the spuds and duck are cooking, zest the orange then segment following the technique shown here: http://freshcatering.blogspot.com/2007/04/how-to-supreme-segment-orange.html. Don't throw away the pithy core, squeeze the last of the juice into a bowl....then chuck it.
Cut the pomegranate in half, turn cut side down in the palm of your hand and with splayed fingers, gently beat the skin of the pomegranate with a heavy spoon to release the seeds into a bowl you have cunningly placed underneath. Discard the empty skin and any membrane that has fallen into the bowl. Add the orange segments, the spring onion and the radish to the bowl.
Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan, then roughly crush in a pestle and mortar. Mix the cumin with the honey, rose water, the juice from the orange, the vinegar and the oil. Season really well with pepper and salt. Mix the dressing with the vegetables in the bowl and allow to marinade for 5 mins - the viniagrette may split and look thin, don't worry. When the spuds are cooked, drain and cut into quarters and add to the vegetable and viniagrette mix - the warm potatoes will suck up the flavour and excess juice from the bowl so mix well with your hands and leave for 10 mins to infuse.
Back to the duck - when it has had 12 mins on the skin side and is golden and crispy, flip onto the flesh side and turn off the heat. Allow the duck breast to rest in the pan for 10 mins - this should cook it to a blushing pink depending on the size of your breasts (this sexual innuendo was not lost on me by the way).
To plate, use the coriander like a salad leaf with the rocket and watercress. Pile onto a large plate, top with the vegetable mix and then the thinly sliced duck breast. Finish with a sprinkle of sliced spring onion, pomegranate and more chopped coriander.