Warm Duck Salad with Pears & Quince Dressing



What's there not to love about Autumn!? Children getting ready for their first day at school; labeling uniforms and sharpening their colouring pencils. Adults getting ready for college or evening classes or just preparing for a fresh start at work after a quiet August.

Autumn is the moment in the middle of the night when you find yourself getting up to close that window that's been open all summer and grabbing that extra blanket to put over your crisp sheets. The changes of colour on the trees, some fiery crimson whilst others such vibrant yellows, reminding you of the sun that is no longer scorching. Autumn is the promise of fireworks for some, a turkey for others.., pumpkins, squirrels, dressing up for Halloween, and the most gorgeous light in October for all to enjoy.

Yes, Autumn brings with her wonderful things!!! For me, all of the above, and including  the wanting of floral dresses, short jackets, all sorts of boots and feminine macs; and most of all a whole load of delicious foods to be had!

Today, to celebrate the first day of Autumn, I have made this delicious dish by Diana Henry: Warm duck salad with pears and quince dressing.



Serves 4

Ingredients:

The Dressing:

2 tsp cider vinegar
4 tsp quince paste (membrillo)
8 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

1 chicon chicory
1 chicon red chicory or Treviso
3 just-ripe pears
1/2 lemon juice
3 Gressingham duck breasts
10g (1/4oz) unsalted butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbps medium sherry (I must admit I put about 4 ;)!)
75g soft mixed leaves
20g blanched hazelnuts, halved (I realized I prefer them quartered) and toasted



 What to do:
  •  Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
  • Mix the cider vinegar and membrillo in a cup or bowl, breaking down the membrillo with a spoon. 
  • Season with salt & pepper and then whisk in the extra-virgin oil.
  • Separate the  chicory & treviso leaves
  •  Halve & core the pears and then cut them into wedges. Squeeze lemon juice on them to stop them from discolouring and place them aside for later
  • Score the skin of the duck breasts and season with salt & pepper
  • Heat a frying-pan – Diana says ideally ovenproof – then add the duck, skin-side down. Cook over a medium heat until golden brown. No need for oil, the duck has enough fat!– this should take three minutes.(it took mine 4-5 minutes) Turn over and cook for a further minute. 
  • Transfer the duck to the oven (if you don't have an oven proof frying pan, like me, (though I desperately want one!!) then you can use a roasting-tin) and cook for 10 minutes – they should be rare in the middle. 
  • Remove , cover with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the butter and oil in another frying-pan and cook the pears over a medium-high heat so the flesh gets a good colour, then reduce the heat and cook until tender. Add the sherry and cook until it has coated the pears well and bubbled away to almost nothing. The pears should turn quite dark. *They turned a really lovely warm colour! :)
  • Slice the  duck breasts. 
  • Toss the leaves and nuts with most of the dressing. Arrange on four plates and divide the pears and duck between them. 
  • Drizzle on the rest of the dressing and serve immediately!!!

Delicious!!

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