I love the idea of a good salad. They are simple to put together, and can be immensely satisfying under the right conditions. For me, a salad should be about varying tastes and textures, while still fairly satiating; after all, nothing’s worse than sitting down to 15 minutes of chewing and not feeling satisfied. In terms of satiety, duck breast is pretty high up there – it only takes a little to feel full, especially compared to something leaner like chicken breasts.
So I threw together this duck breast salad, paired with the opposing tastes of apple and bacon. Not too flashy, but it makes an excellent midday meal. There is a lot of good advice out there on how to properly cook a duck breast, but I really like my method: crisp it skin-side down in a skillet, then flip and transfer to an oven until it’s ready. It’s an easy process, assuming you have an oven-proof skillet. If you don’t, no big deal – simply leave a baking sheet in the oven as it heats, and transfer the breasts to the hot sheet instead.
Whipping up a basic vinaigrette is a cinch. Consider adding all sorts of flavors to my basic recipe below: red pepper flakes, garlic, ground mustard, lemon juice, mayo, and so on.
Apple, Bacon, and Duck Breast Salad (Paleo, Primal, Gluten-Free, Whole30)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 pinch pepper
1 pinch fresh parsley, chopped
2 dashes salt, more to taste
6oz bacon, sliced
2 duck breasts
salt and pepper to season
2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
2 apples, thinly sliced
1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients and stir until well-mixed, then set aside. Score the duck’s fat in a crisscross pattern, being careful not to pierce the meat. Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper, then set aside. Cook the bacon until crispy, about 8 minutes, then set aside to drain on paper towels.
2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the duck breasts skin-side-down in a cold skillet, then turn the heat on to med/high. Sauté until the skin is crispy and golden, about 10 minutes, reducing heat as needed to prevent splattering. Flip and sear for one more minute, then transfer the skillet and breasts to the oven and roast until cooked to your liking, about 4 minutes for medium and 7 minutes for medium-well (see note below about doneness). Remove from the oven and skillet, and set aside to rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.
3. Re-stir the vinaigrette then toss it with the lettuce. Divide the lettuce into four bowls then divide the bacon and apple sliced into the bowls. Thinly slice the duck breasts then distribute the breast pieces onto the salads, then serve.
** The USDA recommends cooking duck to 165F (medium-well), but about 145F (medium) yields a better texture and more tender meat. Your call!
** Feel free to add any other salad ingredients you’d like: grapes, dried cranberries, walnuts, carrots. Sky’s the limit.