When we were planning our Christmas menus, Paul asked me to roast a duck. A perfectly reasonable request - too expensive for every day but a lovely treat - but I couldn't really fit it into the specifically festive feasting. So I bought the duck, and in the slightly flat hinterland between Christmas and New Year we roasted it.
|Slow roasted and basted with mulberry molasses|
I had leftover pomegranate arils and pistachio nuts from our Boxing Day dessert, so I decided to make them into a salad to go with the duck. This sent me in a Middle Eastern direction with the flavours, so I roasted the duck slowly, basting it a couple of times with a little mulberry molasses, and made megadarra - rice and lentils with crisp caramelised onions - to go on the side.
I was very happy with how all of it turned out. I've never cooked the onions slowly enough to get the right crisp brown effect that is what really makes megadarra, so getting it right this time was a bit of a personal triumph. And I have roasted a whole duck before but Paul thinks I haven't - which means it must have been a long time ago.
The salad was the biggest success of the meal though. Sour, sweet, juicy, crunchy and extremely beautiful - everything you want in a salad to lift a fatty, starchy meal. Definitely worth making, even if you have to buy the ingredients specially. It would be brilliant with some good hummus and warm flatbread, or even as a topping for a lentil soup.
Pomegranate and lemon salad
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
100g pistachio nuts
Thinly slice the shallot and place in a bowl. Cut the lemons into segments (slicing between the membranes), catching all the juices, and put the segments and juice on top of the shallot slices. Sprinkle with the sugar and salt and allow to macerate for about half an hour. Roughly chop the pistachio nuts and bash out the pomegranate arils (cut the pomegranate in half, place the cut side on the palm of one hand over a bowl and bash the daylights out of it with a wooden spoon). Add the nuts and pomegranate to the bowl of lemon and shallot, stir well to combine and serve.