This is a summer dish that features something I typically associate with cold-weather cooking: duck confit. In France duck confit is widely available prepared. Sometimes it is in jars, and sometimes the legs are individually vacuum packed. In the States you can find it in specialty shops or online from D’Artagnan.
The duck is already fully cooked. You have only to warm it gently to render the fat, then turn up the heat a bit to crispen the skin. Some of the fat is used to cook the potatoes to a nice golden brown. Green beans, a vinaigrette laden with herbs and mustard, and frisée complete the salad. Serve with bread, a hunk of blue cheese and red wine for a great warm-weather meal.
2 confit duck legs
1 pound (450 g) waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 1 cm)
8 oz (225 g) slender green beans
1 head of frisée
a handful of toasted walnuts
For the vinaigrette:
½ shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
2–3 tablespoons fresh chives and parsley, chopped
1. Place the duck legs in a heavy skillet and cook gently over low heat to render the fat. Pour off the fat and set it aside for the potatoes. Turn the heat up to medium and fry the duck legs until the skin is crispy and the meat is warmed through. (You may want to cut some of the meat off the bone so that all of the skin touches the surface of the pan.) Remove the duck from the pan and set aside. When the meat is cool enough to handle, pull it off the bones in bite-sized pieces.
2. Return 2–3 tablespoons of duck fat to the pan, and cook the potatoes in it until they are golden and crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside, about 20 minutes. Drain them on paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, cook the green beans in a pot of boiling salted water until they are tender but still bright green. Drain and rinse them in cold water immediately to stop the cooking.
4. Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl combine the shallot, garlic, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oils, then stir in the herbs. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
5. To serve, divide the frisée among four plates. Evenly distribute the duck, potatoes, beans and walnuts, then top with the vinaigrette.