Spinach Salad with Duck and Black Cherry Vinaigrette

September 23, 2010

Spinach Salad with Duck & Cherries

This salad is great for a light dinner. The smoked duck seems filling, but it’s a salad with a with a with a vinaigrette, so it seems light at the same time. My recipe was born from trying to figure out what I should do with the smoked duck breast I bought from Fabrique Delices. Their booth at the Campbell Farmer’s Market is always full of yummy meats, such as merguez sausages, various types of duck, and pates.

Rendering the Duck Fat

Then I remembered a salad my mom used to throw together when she would have greens from Granny’s garden. I used to tease her because she’d put it in a huge bowl and ate directly from it; I called it the Jethro bowl. She would make a bacon vinaigrette and pour over the greens, so I decided to do the same thing, only rendering fat from the duck instead of bacon.

But what type of vinegar to use? I’ve mentioned them before, but Campbell’s Olive Bar has a wonderful range of not only olive oils but balsamic vinegars as well. I always keep their fig flavor and black cherry flavor on hand. Another kitchen staple is a cache of dried fruits, so I decided to toss a handful of cherries in with this to give it a sweet taste against the pucker of the vinegar.

And what pairs well with duck? Maybe a nice pinot noir. I’ve previously mentioned my love of Limerick Lane’s zinfandels. Since I belong to their wine club, I’ve tried their other offerings, and the Orsi Vineyard pinot noir goes really well with this dish. Cherry flavors are laced through this mild red which really pairs nicely not only with the duck, but with the fruits as well.

Onions, Garlic, and Oil & Vinegar

Spinach Salad with Duck and Black Cherry Vinaigrette
Serves 2

10 slices smoked duck breast
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot or 1/2 small onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon black cherry balsamic vinegar
4 ounces baby spinach, stemmed
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat a skillet over medium low heat. Add the slices of duck and render the fat. Remove the slices of smoked duck breast and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the skillet with the rendered fat. Saute the onions until they begin to soften. Add the dried cherries and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the cherries plump. Add the additional 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil if needed. Meanwhile, split the spinach between two plates.

Add the vinegar, taking care to not steam yourself in the process (a face full of hot vinegar fumes does not feel good!). Whisk oil and vinegar together, and pour the mixture over the stemmed spinach. Toss, and add 5 slices of the duck breast to each plate, atop the spinach. Serve immediately.

Making the Vinaigrette

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