Duck Breast and Bitter Greens with Black Bean Sauce 

My testing notes for this recipe say “fabulous.” It makes a very special main course yet is easy to prepare for a weeknight dinner. Duck breast needs to be cooked with care, for overcooking makes it tough. I first pan sear the breast briefly in a heavy skillet, to partially cook it and to render some of the fat. Then I slice it and stir-fry it briefly in the rendered fat, along with greens and the black bean sauce. 

Serves 3

1 large or 2 small duck breasts (1 pound/450 grams total)
1¼ teaspoons fine sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon duck fat, peanut oil, or sunflower oil
About 1 pound/450 grams mizuna greens, dandelion greens, or radicchio, or a mixture
3½ to 4 tablespoons Black Bean Sauce (page 189, or store-bought)
¼ cup/60 ml hot water, or as needed

Cooked rice 
Quick Cucumber Pickles (page 57) or a green salad

Lay the duck breast(s) skin side up on a plate or cutting board and, with a sharp knife held at an angle, cut 3 or 4 parallel diagonal slashes through the skin and fat. Then repeat on the opposite diagonal, to make a crisscross pattern. Rub about 1 teaspoon of the salt into both sides of the breast(s) and set aside on a plate for half an hour.

Heat a cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the fat or oil, lower the heat to medium, and use a spatula to spread the oil over the surface of the pan. Place the duck skin side down in the hot pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, then turn over and cook for about 1 minute. Raise the heat to high, turn the duck over onto the skin side again, and cook for another minute or two, until the skin is browned and crisping. Remove the duck from the pan and set aside on a plate or a rimmed cutting board, skin side up, to rest for 10 minutes. 

Transfer 3 tablespoons of the rendered fat to a bowl or measuring cup and set by your stovetop; store the rest in the refrigerator to use in later cooking. 

While the duck rests, trim any tough ends off the greens, or separate the radicchio leaves, and wash well. Chop into approximately 1-inch/2.5 cm lengths and set aside.

Thinly slice the duck breast crosswise and then cut the slices into large bite-sized pieces. Heat a wok or large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the reserved duck fat and then the bean sauce and stir to break the sauce up as it

Excerpted from The Miracle of Salt by Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022.