Happy spring! What’s been cooking in the Dinner Diva’s kitchen? To celebrate the first weekend of spring, we recently created a delicious meal of grilled duck breast and a carrot-farro-herb salad. We also made hard cider jus to accompany the meal. Keep reading for the full recipe and my chef notes!
Grilled Duck Breast & Carrot-Farro-Herb Salad with Hard Cider Jus Recipe
We found the original recipe on Sara Moulton’s website, and then made a few adjustments, such as using a mixture of arugula and spinach and substituting hard cider for regular cider. A suggested accompaniment with this meal is pinot noir, so if you’re so inclined, pull out a bottle.
- Two 12-ounce Muscovy duck breasts
- Honey Roasted Carrot Farro Salad (recipe below)
- Hard Cider Jus (recipe below)
First score the fat side of the duck breast by making shallow, crosswise cuts (this helps the fat melt away into the pan). Season the breasts well with kosher salt and finely ground black pepper.
Heat a heavy bottomed skillet, preferably cast iron, on a grill over medium heat until very hot. Add the duck breast, skin side down, and cook for 5-7 minutes or so, rendering the skin crispy. Turn the duck over and cook it for a minute or two on the meat side, basting it with some of the fat from the pan. Transfer the duck breast, meat side down, directly onto the grill for 1 minute. Remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
Mound a large spoonful of the Honey Roasted Carrot-Farro-Herb Salad in the middle of each plate. Then slice the duck breasts in thin strips across the breast, fanning half a breast over each mound of salad, and spoon a liberal amount of the Hard Cider Jus over the duck.
Roasted Carrots-Farro-Herb Salad Recipe
- ½ cup honey
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and slant-cut on a bias, as well as turning them as you cut. They should look like triangles.
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 2 medium red onions, julienned (1/4” thin strips)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup raw farro (cook for 15 minutes in water then drain)
- ¼ cup toasted pistachios
- 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
- ¼ cup whole tarragon leaves
- ½ cup whole parsley leaves
- 1 cup baby arugula
- Several chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
- Several chive blossoms, broken into pieces (optional)
- Several borage flowers (optional)
In a large skillet on high heat, boil the honey until it thickens and starts to turn a dark amber color. Add the carrots, salt and pepper to taste and the cumin seed (the carrots will very quickly start to exude liquid). Add the onions and thyme, then reduce the heat and cook for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are cooked and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed or boiled off. Transfer to a bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, farro, pistachios, vinegar, tarragon, parsley, arugula, chives, chive blossoms, borage and salt and pepper to taste.
Cider Jus Recipe
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 Tablespoon minced shallots
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 teaspoon anise seed or 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, cut in small pieces, kept cold
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place cider, broth, shallots, thyme, spices and vinegar in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook until mixture is reduced to about 3/4 cup of liquid remaining, about 20 minutes. Whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Strain, pressing on solids to extract liquid. Discard solids.
- This recipe is the epitome of a spring salad – light and surprisingly refreshing. I thought the best part of the meal was the Cider Jus. For our salad we used hard cider instead of regular non-alcoholic apple cider. The end result was less sweet for sure, but this substitution added a more complex, richer flavor. Want to make your own hard cider? Follow these instructions.
- What is cider? “Cider, or cyder, is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from any fruit juice: apple juice, peaches, pears or other fruit. Cider alcohol content varies from 1.2% ABV to 8.5% or more in traditional English ciders.”
- For the salad, we did a mix of arugula and spinach (that’s what the market had) and added colored carrots for a little fun.
- Never tried Farro? It’s definitely worth giving it a try; I find the texture is similar to barley. Read more on this ancient grain here.
- Scoring the skin of the duck breast as directed is a must as this will help make the duck taste less heavy or chalky. Don’t worry if you cannot find the type of duck specified in this recipe; Mucovy Duck is native to Mexico, Central and South America and not found in my area so we used Peking Duck instead.
- The recipe suggestion is to serve the salad with a Pinot Noir. Here’s one of our favorites from J Winery in Healdsburg, CA.
Download and print the recipe here.
Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.