This is a great treatment to use with farm-raised duck breasts. Brining the breasts overnight keeps them beautifully tender and pink when sliced for this salad.
Step 1: Duck Breast Brine
For the brine, place all the ingredients except the duck breasts in a saucepan and place on a low heat. Stir occasionally and remove from the heat once the sugar and salt has dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
Take a sharp knife and score the duck breasts diagonally in a cris-cross manner on the fatty skin side. Place the scored duck in the brine and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours, or preferably over night. Remove from the brine, give the duck breasts a rinse under cold water, then pat completely dry. Keep on a cake rack in the fridge until ready to smoke.
Step 2: Smoking the Duck Breasts
Take a sauté pan and place on a low heat for a good five minutes. Place the duck breasts skin side down in the pan. Leave them for 5 to 10 minutes to render as much fat out of the skin as possible. Pour the excess fat from the pan as you go. The skin will begin to brown as the fat draws away. Do not turn. Remove once the skin is golden brown all over.
Set up your smoker outdoors in a sheltered position. Sprinkle the wood chips and tea in the bottom of the smoker. Place the rack with the duck breasts over the chips, secure the lid, then place the smoker over the burners. Depending on the amount of heat generated, check the duck breasts after 7 minutes, and then at three minute intervals after that. The breasts should be cooked to medium and have a good smoked flavor and color. Remove and rest while you make the salad to accompany the duck.
Step 3: Witloof, Mandarin, Cranberry and Cashew Nut Salad
Take the witloof, cut them in quarters length wise, and slice out the inner core. Rough chop them on an angle and place in a salad bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, toss together and season to taste.
Step 4: Serving
Slice the duck breasts as thinly as possible and arrange on plates. Serve a portion of salad next to the duck, and tuck in.
Photography by Kieran Scott