A Romantic Meal for Two – Pan-Fried Duck Breast Salad with Mixed Berries & Walnuts
It’s nearly that time of year again, the silly season of cupids, hearts and soppy cards…….I know, I sound like an old cynic, and a thoroughly unromantic grumpy “not so old” woman to boot……but the thing is this, I have never been one for celebrating Valentine’s Day, well not in the big balloons and velvet heart cushion kind of way; if we celebrate the day at all, that is the royal “we” as in my husband and I, we tend to indulge in a special bottle of wine and a meal out, or, I prepare something nice at home. I would be mortified if he suddenly swept me of my slipper clad feet and presented me with a large padded card and a cuddly soft toy, although, jewellery always comes in handy thinking about it……call me staid and boring, but I am just as happy to sit at home next to the log fire with a damn good bottle of Red having previously eaten something totally delicious. I am not averse to being taken out, but when the weather is minus 5 degrees, the car doors are frozen and that nice little romantic “Italian” is heaving at the seams with lovey-dovey couples all smooching and trilling, just pass me the corkscrew, let the cat in and lock the doors please.
Now this is just the kind of recipe that I would make for us on the romantic eve’ – maybe as a starter (halve the ingredients if that is the case) or as a lovely main course with about 3 metres of baguette to accompany it, and that bottle of Red I was banging on about earlier. Draw the curtains, chuck another log on the fire and light those candelabras……..get smoochy if you must, but please do it in the comfort of your own home and out of sight…….as we will be doing! I know Oysters are the usual food of love on these heady occasions, and I may yet serve a dozen as a starter, but for those of you who collapse at the sight of a raw mollusc, Give Game a Go and Do Duck this year, unless you are vegetarian, in which case, ditch the duck and add some suitably sexy goat’s cheese to the platter.
What I love about food like this is, that if you source great ingredients you are only dealing with four main elements – duck breasts, walnuts, berries and salad…..with the oil and vinegar for a dressing of course. Great food is not dependant on throwing hundreds of things into the cooking pot so to speak, and some ingredients need room to shine. I tend to think that duck is one of those ingredients – don’t smother it in an orange sauce, go fresh and berry-like, think clean acidic flavours to cut through the richness of that divine duck breast, be bold in what you DON’T add to the recipe, and let all the ingredients sing……opera, jazz or rock and roll, whatever, just liberate those saucieres. I don’t mean to lecture, but it has always been a mystery to me why so much wonderful produce is smothered in sauces with excessive spices and herbs; it then becomes invisible beneath its cumbersome disguise…….I am going to dress with less this month!
That’s it for today, I hope this recipe inspires you enough to try it for a romantic meal this Valentine’s Day, or any other day you fancy being romantic come to that. And, as for the seasonal aspect of this dish, currants and berries are not “in” right now, and the ones that I used for the recipe in these photos were seasonally gathered and popped in the freezer at the end of last summer……I always “open” freeze my fruit on a tray before adding them to bags, hence the fruit being whole and not all “mashed” together…….it beats buying blackberries from Chile etc. Have a great day and see you later with more seasonal recipes, preserves and lemons is all I am going to say. Karen