Strolls through Paris, be they shopping trips, cultural tours de force, or leisurely balades along the Seine, have one thing in common: they never fail to make everyone hungry. On a usual Saturday, this is when we will find ourselves, sometimes way ahead of the common hour for a French déjeuner, in some casual bistrot that will hopefully fulfill everyone´s idea of a lovely lunch. My kids are happy with a steak frites & chocolat mousse kind of meal, my husband, pragmatic as he is, is fine as long as the kids are, and as of myself, I usually make things complicated just to end up settling for the common denominator (or making a little shopping tour on my own) . It may help when I see la salade Périgourdine on the restaurant menu. Embellished with the culinary crown jewels of the Périgord region, this couldn´t be further from the usual concept of a salad: cured duck breast, foie gras on toast, confit de canard, gésiers and potatoes salardaises (duck legs, innards and potatoes cooked in duck fat) make that handful of lettuce look like a mere pretence to evoke the impression of a “light” meal when we´re actually dealing with a seriously hearty feast. Let´s say it´s a starter that requires no main … for the rest of the day.
I love to make my own salade Périgourdine at home, especially since I´ve had a streak of bad luck with it eating out, but most of all for the holiday memories of Périgord it brings, my very personal land of Cockayne. Now that´s it´s so warm outside, I skip the foie gras and potatoes, and serve it with a luke warm duck magret instead, a few sliced peaches and a good handful of roasted hazelnuts and almonds, dressed up in a summery vinaigrette with a dash of orange flower water. In other words, a take on a steak salad with a French touch . Eh donc, voilà.
Salad with duck breast & peaches ( serves 2 as a light meal):
1/2 head feuille de chêne lettuce
6 quail or 2-3 chicken eggs
10-12 slices of smoked duck breast
1 or 2 magret(s) de canard (duck breast) of 350-400 g each
2-3 yellow peaches, sliced
handful of chopped almonds and hazelnuts, dash of fleur de sel
1 bunch of basil
The duck breast should be at ambient temperature. With a sharp kitchen knife, score duck skin in a crosswise pattern, see photo. Set a cast iron pan over medium heat, place the duck breast skin side down (you don´t have to wait until the pan is warm) and fry for 12-15 minutes, or until most of the fat has rendered. Spoon off the fat every few minutes and reserve for another time (it can be kept in the fridge for up to 2-3 months).
Flip the magret over and continue to fry for 3 minutes or so – a little longer if you want it well done. Wrap in aluminium foil for 5-10 minutes. Slice finely (3 mm) with a very sharp knife and arrange on the salad before serving, sprinkled with a dash of fleur de sel.
Fry the chopped hazelnuts/almonds, then also the peach slices if you want in the same pan for 1 minute (peaches) or until slightly browned (nuts/almonds).
While the magret is sizzling, boil the quail eggs. Place them in a pot with water, bring to boil and switch off the heat after 3 minutes. Leave in the water for 2 more minutes. Drain, pour cold water, peel and halve.
Clean and dry lettuce, arrange on a serving plate with the cured duck breast, sliced pan seared magret, peaches, quail eggs, nuts/almonds and basil. Drizzle with the dressing.
dressing with honey & orange flower water:
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp orange blossom water
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey (or 2)
1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
salt & pepper
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing, drizzle all over the salad, and serve immediately.