Now, when you read the ingredients, you will probably think I have lost my marbles: there is a lot going on here, but believe me, it works so well. The recipe is inspired by a similar one my aunt Siobhan in Cape Town makes: I have changed it considerably, but the combination of peach and duck and walnuts stems from her recipe: she is quite the most amazing cook, and certainly, along with so many other incredible women in my life, has inspired so much of what I do in the kitchen. This is a wonderful starter for 4, or a meal for 2. If it’s a proper meal, I serve it with roasted new potatoes: steamed or plain boiled new potatoes would work very well too.
The “warm” bits of the salad should be the duck, and the peaches: the other ingredients can be room temperature. The dressing can be prepared beforehand, and stored in the fridge for up to a week.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
2 large duck breasts (about 350-400g worth)
For the Duck Spice:
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 star anise
1 tsp Maldon salt
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp white pepper
1 clove garlic microplaned
3 white peaches (use nectarines if you can’t find peaches) sliced into pieces that are about 2 cm thick
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 tsp sunflower or groundnut oil
¾ cup of walnuts
1 small log goat’s cheese (about 120-150g) cut into slices, then quartered: you want small pieces
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 small bag mange tout, lightly steamed (for about 4 minutes: literally to blanch them)
1 bag mixed salad leaves: I use the bags which include crispy Sala Nova types of salad, or Cos, or Butterhead: you want a crunchier leaf here, preferably not too much rocket in the salad.
For the dressing:
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soya sauce
1 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp red wine vinegar
Juice of ½ a lemon
To sprinkle on the salad:
1 tbsp back sesame seeds (not essential, but so, so pretty and delicious)
First of all, prepare your duck breasts: score the skin and fat of each breast: about 5 scores across each breast. In a pestle and mortar, mix all of the duck spice ingredients until a smooth, powdery rub forms: you will have to bash it a lot to ensure the star anise is properly ground down. Rub this spice into the scored skin, cover with clingfilm, and set aside.
Toast your walnuts in a hot pan, and set these aside too.
Make the dressing, by stirring all the ingredients together in a little bowl, and set aside.
Place the duck breasts skin down in a very hot non- stick frying pan. Fry on one side for about 5 minutes, then turn over and fry the side for another 5. Remove from the heat, and place in a hot oven for about 8 minutes. I like my duck rare: but Barnaby likes it a little more well done, so I find these timings work. However, always check: take a sharp knife and gently slice into the flesh, to check just how pink you like it.
While the duck is in the oven, get on with the peaches. Warm the butter and sunflower oil in a small non stick frying pan, and add the sliced chillis. Turn the heat up so that the butter and oil are frothy, and add the sliced peaches. Let one side of the peaches cook in the hot butter and oil for about 2-3 minutes, and then flip over to the other side for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, take the chillis and peaches out of the pan, pop them on a warm plate and set aside.
When the duck has had its 8 minutes in the oven, take it out and let it rest for 4 minutes, while you prepare the salad. Use the leaves as your base, and add the ingredients, sprinkling and placing them where you think best. Slice the duck breast into slices, and place on top of the salad with the warm peaches and chilli. Reserve any of the duck juices that have gathered while the duck was resting: add 2-3 teaspoons of this to the dressing, and mix well. If you don’t fancy doing this, that’s fine too: I just like the extra flavour in the dressing.
Lastly, sprinkle the black sesame seeds all over the salad, and serve with the dressing, and your potatoes of choice.