Grilled duck breast on lentil, olive and walnut salad
( SERVES 4 )
Back in the late 1950s, two-star Michelin Chef Andre Daguin found his cupboard bare when unexpected guests arrived at his restaurant, Hotel de France, in the city of Auch, the historical capital of Gascony and home of the legendary Musketeers.
The story goes that Andre grilled the duck breasts that were sitting ready to be confit, serving them like a steak. The resulting popularity of the magrets de canard grillé caught on, and today the dish is as common here as chicken is in New Zealand.
- Season duck well with salt and pepper and set aside while preparing the salad.
- Cook the lentils in 4-5 cups of boiling water with the bouquet garni if using, for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Grate the rind of both oranges and place in a large bowl with the currants. Squeeze the juice from one orange and dice the flesh of the second orange finely. Add to the currants with the vinaigrette and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the currants time to soak up the flavours.
- Toss through the lentils, walnuts, onion, chillies, roughly chopped olives and mint. Season well with salt. Sit at room temperature while cooking the duck.
- Heat a frying pan and when moderately hot, place the duck breasts fat side down into the pan. Once the fat runs increase the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Turn and cook the breasts a further 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and rest for a few minutes. Keep any juices that collect on the plate.
- Thinly slice the duck breasts diagonally and serve atop a generous portion of the lentil salad. Drizzle any juices on top. Adding a few baby lettuce leaves with each serve will lighten the texture.