By: Lewis EssonServes: 6
This dish was devised for a dear French friend who has successfully lost a great deal of weight by means of a clever diet she had devised for herself. I wanted to do something for her with lots of French country gusto and flavour, but which would still fit into her healthy eating parameters.
I'd seen a cassoulet salad some years ago in the wonderful The New Basics by the authors of The Silver Palate Cookbook, but the approach there seemed still a bit heavy. Using the mix of confit duck (I've tried both canned confit and the 'fresh' types now readily available in supermarkets) and fresh duck (you can, obviously, make it even more healthy by removing the skin) with a selection of seasonal vegetables and leaves produces a light and summery dish that still delivers much of the cassoulet character. The garlic sausage and chives, together with a punchy mustardy red wine vinegar dressing, bring the whole thing magically together.
2 fresh duck fillets
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
300g baby new potatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 confit duck legs
12 quails' eggs
2 Cos lettuces, torn into pieces
1 large red onion, finely chopped
200g sachet of mixed herb salad
150g French beans, blanched until just tender and then refreshed in cold water
100g asparagus tips, blanched until just tender and then refreshed in cold water
400g canned flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
250g cherry plum tomatoes, halved
3 thick slices of French garlic sausage, cut into cubes
2 handfuls of garlic chives, chopped
For the dressing
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1. Well ahead, preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Make 6-7 deep cuts at an angle across the skin on the duck breast fillets down to the flesh. Smear with the mustard, working it well into the cuts and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
2. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender and drain well, letting them steam dry in the pan. Mix one-third of each of the dressing ingredients together, season to taste and add to the potatoes. Toss until they are all well coated and leave to cool.
3. Cook the confit duck legs in the oven until the skin is nice and crisp, about 15-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
4. Get a griddle pan good and hot, and cook the duck breasts on it, starting with the skin side down and turning them three times all together to give them 6-8 minutes on each side in total. Turn off the heat and leave the duck on the griddle to cook through gently.
5. Put the quails' eggs in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 3 minutes only, then refresh in cold water and, when cool, pat dry and shell.
6. When all these cooked elements are cool, shred the confit duck into good chunks, slice the duck breasts across into thinnish slices and halve these if large. Halve the shelled eggs.
7. Reserving some duck, tomatoes, eggs, green beans, asparagus and chives to garnish the top of the salad, mix all the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Make up the rest of the dressing, pour it over and toss the salad carefully. Finish by dotting artfully with the reserved items.
© Recipe copyright 2003 Lewis Esson