Photograph by Johnny Miller Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Theo Vamvounakis

Mahogany Duck with Pomegranate Lentil Salad

Mains from Issue 7 – Summer 2015 – Spectrum

The 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony Van Dyck made such frequent use of a murky brown pigment known as Cassel Earth in his lavish works that the shade would come to be known as Van Dyke Brown (it’s also a photo technique). For Van Dyck, that brown was his secret weapon, the hue that distinguished his work; with our seared duck and warm lentil salad, it’s another brown—a gleaming secret sauce of pomegranate molasses—that helps set it apart.

serves 4

  • 2 (12-16 oz) duck breasts
  • 2 ½ Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • rounded ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • cup brown or green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 head fennel, shaved into thin slices

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  • 1

    Cut a shallow cross-hatch pattern in the skin of the duck breasts and season all over with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

  • 2

    Whisk together pomegranate molasses, 1 Tbsp water, sugar, cinnamon, ¼ tsp each salt and pepper, and ⅓ cup oil until emulsified. Set aside.

  • 3

    Cook cumin and garlic in 2 Tbsp olive oil over moderate heat in a medium saucepan until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Carefully stir in 3 cups water and lentils. Bring to a boil then simmer until lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and toss warm lentils with 3 Tbsp pomegranate dressing. Cool slightly, then toss with carrot, onion, parsley, and fennel. Season to taste.

  • 4

    Pat the duck breasts dry, then lay them skin side down in a cold, large heavy skillet. Set pan over medium- high heat and cook until skin is a crisp deep golden brown and fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Pour most of the fat into a heat-proof bowl and save for another use. Leave a Tbsp or two in the skillet. Lower the heat to medium. Turn the duck breasts over and cook another 8 minutes until medium rare (about 135° to 140°F on an instant read thermometer.) Let duck rest on a cutting board 5 minutes before slicing. Slice duck and divide among 4 plates. Serve with lentil salad and additional dressing.