Marinated duck salad with bulghur

    1 hour 25 min

    The contrast of sweet citrus, slightly bitter greens, spicy chilli, earthy grains and tender duck is marvellous, with sweet basil adding an unexpected note. Kumquats are a curious citrus fruit in that they are eaten skin and all; poaching takes away their bitterness so they yield up a sweet citrus flavour.

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    Serves: 4 

    • 150 g (5½ oz) bulghur wheat
    • 4 small boneless duck breasts, about 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) in total
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1½ tbsp mild chilli powder
    • 1½ tsp ground cumin
    • 4 tbsp finely shredded fresh basil
    • grated zest and juice of 1 orange, plus juice of 2 more oranges
    • juice of 1½ lemons
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 16 kumquats
    • 1½ tbsp sugar
    • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
    • 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
    • 200 g (7 oz) salad leaves
    • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste
    • ¼ cucumber, finely diced
    • ½ large (beefsteak) tomato, finely diced
    • salt and pepper

    Prep:45min  ›  Cook:40min  ›  Ready in:1hr25min 

    1. Place the bulghur wheat in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for about 30 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, remove all of the skin and fat from the duck breasts. Put the breasts in a dish and add half of the garlic, chilli powder, cumin and basil, all of the zest and juice of 1 orange, the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil. Mix well, turning the breasts to coat, then set aside to marinate.
    3. To prepare the kumquats, cut a small slit in each one (do not cut all the way through). Place the kumquats in a saucepan with the juice of 1 orange, the sugar and 175 ml (6 fl oz) of water. Bring to the boil and simmer over a moderate heat, turning the kumquats so that they cook evenly, for 15–20 minutes or until they are just tender and the liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid.
    4. Drain the soaked bulghur wheat and return it to the bowl. Add the spring onions, the remaining garlic, chilli powder, cumin, lemon juice and orange juice, 1 tbsp of the remaining olive oil and the coriander. Season to taste.
    5. Heat a ridged cast-iron grill pan or non-stick frying pan. Remove the duck from its marinade and brown on both sides over a high heat. Cook for a further 4–5 minutes, turning the breasts frequently so that they don't stick or burn. The meat will be rosy in colour in the centre (cook a little longer if you prefer it well done). Remove the breasts to a carving board and slice very thinly against the grain.
    6. Arrange the salad leaves and remaining basil on 4 plates and place 4 kumquats on each bed of leaves. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil, the balsamic vinegar and a little of the kumquat cooking liquid. Place a portion of the bulghur wheat salad in the centre of each plate, and arrange the duck slices around it. Scatter on the diced cucumber and tomato, and serve immediately.

    Some more ideas

    Instead of bulghur wheat, use quinoa, a nutty little grain that comes from Peru. Rinse 75 g (2½ oz) quinoa grains well (they are coated with a sticky substance), then place in a saucepan and add 125 ml (4½ fl oz) of boiling water, or vegetable cooking water such as that from cooking corn on the cob. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the grains are just tender and have absorbed the liquid. Fluff up with a fork and then dress as for the bulghur wheat. * Add a North African flavour to the marinade for the duck breasts. In addition to the spices above, add ¼ tsp each of ground ginger, cinnamon and coriander and ¼ tsp mild or medium curry powder. Double the amount of lemon juice.

    Plus points

    Oranges and kumquats are both an excellent source of vitamin C. They also contain compounds called coumarins which are believed to help thin the blood, thus helping to prevent stroke and heart attacks. * Bulghur wheat is a good, low-fat source of starchy (complex) carbohydrate. It contains useful amounts of some of the B vitamins, particularly B1, as well as copper and iron.

    Each serving provides

    B1, B12, C, copper, iron, B2, B6, folate, niacin, potassium, zinc, A, E, calcium

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