Harvest “Salad” with Duck Confit


Once the weather properly cools and it’s really “Fall”, I can pretty much guarantee I’ll gain a good 3-4 pounds. In about a week. Something about the heart warming smells and tastes of slow cooked, rich foods that makes me not care (too much) about a slight increase in girth.

Out comes my Dutch Ovens (love Staub) and in goes Cassoulet, red wine braised Short Ribs, fresh baked breads, Moroccan lamb apricot tagines, and Minestrone. Dishes that after a bit of leg-work, take hours to simmer or bake. Filling our home with love and physical heat… and gifts me a bit of chub.

I keep saying, next week, I’ll go back to making kale salads three nights a week. Next week…. But not yet!

And this latest find of a recipe is soooooo worth the two solid pounds it temporarily added to both my husband and I. As Dean ate last night, he alternated between “oh wow. Oh wow, this is good” and “this is NOT a salad.”

But I promise, worth every bite! I’ve tweaked it from the original Bon Appetite recipe to fit our more Italian tastes for heavier use of herbs and garlic…. Aside from the slow roasting of duck, the whole assembly takes about 20 minutes.

Harvest Duck "Salad'

Harvest Duck “Salad’

HARVEST “SALAD” with Duck Confit

Serves 4

DUCK: This will take some time in the oven. Take your duck breast or 2-3 duck legs. Optional: Trim unnecessary fat. Pat the duck dry and season liberally with kosher salt. Tuck fresh sprigs of thyme (at least 5-7 sprigs) and course chopped garlic cloves (at least 4) around each duck piece and place snugly in a shallow tureen. Cover with tin foil and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Heat oven to 325’ and slow roast duck, still covered in tin foil, for 3&1/2 hours or so. Remove from oven, uncover, and begin assembling salad.

Tuck lots of fresh thyme and quartered garlic around the duck!

Hello Ducky!

SALAD: In a sauce pan, hard-boil 2 eggs. Takes 7 minutes once water is boiling. Remove eggs from water and let cool on counter.

  • In a small bowl, create your dressing:
  • 4-5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • Pinch kosher or sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tspn stone ground mustard
  • 1 tspn Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil

Let sit and marinate. Whisk with a fork occasionally.

In a large pretty bowl, collect:

  • 2 large handfuls fresh arugula
  • 2 large handfuls spinach or baby kale
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs broken apart (rustic style) by hand – its okay if yolk is not cooked thru entirely
  • Crumbled good quality blue cheese
  • Optional: thinly sliced red onions to taste (I think too strong)
  • Your duck “confit” – using your hands shred the warm duck meat over the top of everything in the salad.

CROUTONS: In a small sauce pan, pour in the rendered fat from the shallow tureen. If you don’t think you have enough to toast croutons, add two or three pats of butter or good olive oil. Toast 2 slices bread. Using your hands, coarsely crumble the toast and quick fry them in the hot duck fat and butter/olive oil. Season liberally with salt. Add to salad.

Whisk your dressing one more time and pour over salad. Toss and serve.

Pair with our 2009 Annadel Estate Winery’s “Anni’s Blend”. A medium bodied red wine goes well with this warm duck salad and really brings home the warmth of incoming Fall.

Last Night with the Old Girl

The Old Girl: our Occidental Automatic ca 1941 here in the Farmhouse Kitchen

The Old Girl: our Occidental Automatic ca 1941 here in the Farmhouse Kitchen

Tonight is the last night with our old stove.  Our Occidental Automatic ca. 1941.  She has turned an obvious corner and become unsafe.  She isn’t lighting, no longer holds consistent temperatures, burps tufts of gas, and her enamel between the 2nd and 3rd burners has cracked a good five inches.

I’m not surprised this day has come.  Her inevitable decline has been happening gradually for a good year.  To be fair, Dean found the old girl in the once-rundown Carriage House when he bought Annadel six years ago.  But for as long as Dean and I have been in love, she’s been chugging and gurgling away.  Keeping us warm and fed for more than 5 years now.  And I am strikingly sad to see her retire tomorrow morning.

It was here on this old farm, in what is now our home here at Annadel Estate Winery, that I learned to cook on this funky stove.  Before Pearl Harbor, before color TV, before women like me quit jobs for NASA to make wine and wear jeans and boots, before Julia Child was Julia Child for crying out loud… The Old GIrl has been heating and feeding her people.  There is something so beautiful and familial in that continuity of nurturing.  An earthly grace that to me transcends our particular time or even this particular family.

I want to write more.  The 28 hours making of traditional Cassoulet springs to mind and how I fell asleep at the kitchen table half way through dinner.  Or ‘perfecting’ Oatmeal Raisin cookies with Anni week after week trying to keep warm.  But we’ve got a chicken to roast.  And our son just filled his diaper… And candidly there’s too much to say to her.  I know I am an idiot.  She’s just a stove! An oven and four burners…2 of which don’t even work.  But she is MY old stove.  My Partner, besides Dean, in seeing me blossom from an ex-government, Cellar Girl to a happily hard-working artist wife and Mommy of two.

Dean promises to restore her for my birthday.  But it may be a year or two.  Until then I have to cook on a new spare stove that is so….modern.  And aesthetically SO boring.  But  we have vines to plant, a winery to literally build, and two kids to feed, raise and school.  I know tonight may not be our last dinner together but it feels like it.  And I am going to miss her.  Deeply.

I DO know though that I cannot bear to be here tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM when they come to move her.  I am taking the kids for Pancakes at Rosemarie’s instead….