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Fuyu Persimmon and Duck Salad with Hazelnut-Sherry Vinaigrette Recipe

Makes: 4 servings

What in the world is a Fuyu persimmon? The Fuyu is a nonastringent persimmon variety. It is sweet and delicious when it becomes orange to orange-red color and is still firm. The Native American persimmon grown in the southern U.S. and the more common pointed Hachiya persimmon are astringent varieties that do not lose their bitterness until the fruit becomes soft.

Why do we care? Ripe Hachiya persimmons are great for making cooked dishes such as chutneys, relishes, or even pies. The Fuyu persimmon is perfect for this salad because its sweetness will cut through and balance the richness of the duck while maintaining its crisp texture.

Special equipment: To cook the duck, we recommend using a cast iron pan because of its even heating properties and its virtually indestructible nature. If you use an aluminum or stainless steel sauté pan, watch the duck breasts carefully to make sure their skin is being evenly rendered.

This was featured as part of our 2007 Fruits of Fall story.

INGREDIENTS

For the duck:

  • 2 duck breasts, boneless, skin-on, trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

For the vinaigrette and salad:

  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons hazelnut oil
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups spicy baby greens

To serve:

  • 2 Fuyu persimmons, cut in half and then cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • Hazelnut-sherry vinaigrette
INSTRUCTIONS
For the duck:

  1. Place a large, cast iron pan over medium heat. Score the duck breasts by cutting through the skin in a crisscross pattern without cutting the meat. Season the breasts with salt and pepper.
  2. Place duck breasts skin side down in the hot pan. Cook the breasts until the fat has been rendered and the skin is crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. Constantly drain the fat from the pan as it renders out of the skin. Turn the breasts over onto the meat side and cook an additional 5 minutes or until the meat is red but is warm on the inside.
  3. Remove the duck from the pan and drain on paper towels. Let the duck breasts rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

For the vinaigrette and salad:

  1. Place the sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small stainless steel bowl. Slowly drizzle in hazelnut oil and vegetable oil, whisking constantly until ingredients are combined. Taste and adjust seasoning. (Makes approximately 1 cup.)
  2. Place the greens in a medium-sized stainless steel bowl. Gently toss the greens with half of the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve:

  1. Place the duck breasts skin side down on a cutting board. Cutting in the opposite direction from the grain of the meat, cut each breast into thin slices. Place a quarter of the greens in the center of each plate. Place several wedges of persimmon on one side of the watercress. Place several slices of duck breast on the opposite side of the persimmons. Sprinkle hazelnuts over the greens and drizzle remaining vinaigrette around the plate.

Note: Brown Turkey figs or Black Mission figs make a wonderful sweet, fruity addition to this salad. For the duck breast, we recommend using a Magret duck breast from a female Muscovy duck. Long Island (Pekin) or Moulard duck breast will also work for this recipe, but we believe the Muscovy has better flavor and texture. Muscovy breast meat is extremely lean and the skin of this duck variety has 50 percent less fat than the Moulard or Pekin duck varieties.

Beverage pairing: A toasty, oaky-style Chardonnay from California or a Burgundy-style Pinot Noir from Oregon will match the accompanying flavors in the salad without getting lost behind the richness of the duck. Recommended: 2001 Shafer, Red Shoulder Ranch, Chardonnay, Carneros, California; or 2001 McKinlay, “Special Selection,” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon. For a sexier match try a dry sherry with nutty, caramelized flavors and a clean, long finish: Berrys’ Fine Dry Oloroso Sherry, Spain.

This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.