Light and delicious, this elegant duck, fig and grilled pear salad will make a statement at any picnic spread.
A great make-ahead salad; the key ingredients – the smoked duck (recipe below) and the grilled pear, can be prepared the day before allowing you to build your salad on the day.
If you are having an at-home picnic affair, combine and dress the salad ingredients in a bowl as you would any salad and plate. If you are enjoying this salad as part of a movable feast, plate your salad at the picnic and drizzle with dressing, it’s that simple.
We give you all the information you need to know how to smoke the duck breast (and realise how simple it is).
If duck breast is not your thing, this salad pairs equally well with smoked chicken or serrano ham. Consider crisping the ham in the oven a little for added flavour and texture and add to the salad at the last minute.
If fresh figs aren’t in season, you can use dried or rehydrated figs, although they will have a slightly different flavour profile from fresh.
Tip: If smoking duck breast, we will often smoke two and make smoked duck rice paper rolls as well, which make great picnic finger food.
When grilling pears, you can also grill some rounds to make a lovely grilled pear and blue cheese appetizer or use additional pears for a super simple savoury pear tart.
Smoked Duck, Fig & Grilled Pear Salad
- 1 medium duck breast - smoked and thinly sliced.
- 1 cup baby arugula leaves
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1 large Pear - Firm. cored and sliced into 8 or more wedges – not too thin or thick.
- 3 large figs - use rehydrated dried figs if it is not fig season. Sliced into small wedges.
- 1/2 small red onion - thinly sliced.
- 45 grams Chèvre soft goats cheese
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil. - use a quality olive oil
- 1 tablespoon hazelnuts or walnuts. - chopped
- Smoke the duck breast – see below for smoked duck breast recipe.
- Place the sliced pear wedges on a preheated griddle pan and brush with olive oil. Cook on each side for a few minutes until you start to see those nice caramelised grill marks. You don’t want the pear too soft.
- Arrange the greens, duck slices, pear wedges, figs, and thinly sliced onion on individual plates or one large serving plate.
- Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. (You can also combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat with balsamic and oil. Plating is easier for building your salad in situ at a picnic.
- Top with small chunks of goats cheese, sprinkle with nuts and serve.
See the full post on how to smoke duck breast here for more notes and tips on achieving tender, juicy smoked duck breast every time. It’s a lot easier than you might think.
How to Smoke Duck Breast
- 2 duck breasts
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper *optional
- Remove duck breasts from the fridge and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Score the skin being careful not to cut the flesh.
- Cover the skin of each breast with ground pepper and rub into the skin. (This is optional but I find the pepper helps crisp the skin and the taste will cook-off if you render the fat further in the pan).
- Place a bowl of water on the rack away from where the duck breast will sit. This will help keep the breast moist and juicy.
- Set your bbq to approx 132℃ | 270℉. Only one side of the burner should be lit, the opposite side to where the duck breast will sit.
- Place the duck breast skin side up with the temperature probes inserted if using them.
- Close the lid and smoke the duck until the internal temperature reaches medium-rare 61℃ |141℉. This will be approx 30 minutes for a small breast and 50 for a large.
- If the breast has a thick fat layer, you may wish to render the fat further. Place skin-side down on a medium to hot pan and allow the remaining fat to render out. Crisping the skin further without burning it. See notes about cooking times if the breast has a very thick fat layer.
- Let duck rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. If not serving immediately, leave the breast whole until ready to use.
Rendering the Fat & Crisping the SkinIf the fat layer is thin, the fat will render and skin will crisp in the smoker. If the breast has a particularly thick layer of fat, you may wish to render this off in a pan after cooking. Depending on the thickness, you will need to factor this additional cooking time. If it is thick, I recommend smoking to the rarer side of medium-rare to allow for at least another 5-10 minutes cooking skin down in the pan. Watch your heat as you want the fat to render and skin to crisp but not burn. Don't be scared to reduce the heat as it renders.
Keep Your BBQ and Kitchen Fat-FreeDuck generally has a lot of fat which will drip and splatter. It is recommended to use a foil tray or lining in your bbq to catch the fat as it drips. Also, use a grease splatter screen if rendering the fat in a pan after smoking.
Sensible Picnic Salad Storage Containers
These stylish 2 in 1 containers (16 oz | 450 gm and 21.5 oz | 610 gm) are perfect for picnic salads. Triple-Layered Vacuum-Insulation keeps salads cold for hours and they can double as a serving bowl which is a great solution for no-mess kids picnic salads. They come in a range of gorgeous colours and designs to suit your picnic style.