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Crisp-skinned duck breasts on white beans with dandelion greens

Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields Serves 6
Crisp-skinned duck breasts on white beans with dandelion greens

White beans

1

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the garlic sausage in olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven over medium heat on the stove top until the sausage has browned, about 7 minutes. Add the carrot and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly to scrape up any browned sausage bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, until it begins to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

2

Add the dried beans, water and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover tightly and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Add the salt, stir, and continue cooking, covered, until the beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. The beans should be fairly dry, but if necessary, add more water, one-quarter cup at a time. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season to taste with more salt if necessary, and freshly ground black pepper. (The dish can be prepared up to this point a day ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered.)

3

When almost ready to serve, chop the dandelion greens in 1-inch sections down to where you’re getting almost all stem. You should have 3 to 4 cups.

4

While the duck breasts are cooking (below), reheat the beans, adding a little more water if necessary to create a slightly flowing, risotto-like texture, and add the dandelion greens. Cook, covered, until the greens soften, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, if necessary, and the red wine vinegar to taste.

Crisp-skinned duck breast and assembly

1

Grind together the salt, cloves and peppercorns to a fine powder. Use a sharp knife to cut a shallow cross-hatching on the skin side of the duck breasts, through the skin but not to the meat.

2

Season the breasts on both sides with the spice mixture, concentrating on the skin side (you’ll use most, if not all, of the spice) and place on a plate. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (This recipe may be prepared to this point up to a day in advance; bring the duck to room temperature before continuing.)

3

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Pat dry the skin side of the duck breasts with a paper towel and place the breasts skin-side down in the hot pan. Sear until the skin side is a deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Depending on the size of the skillet, the breasts will probably need to be cooked in batches. Press down on the breasts from time to time with a spatula to press out any rendered fat. Reduce the heat to medium and turn the breasts over. Cook on the second side until they are medium-rare in the center, 3 to 5 minutes more.

4

Remove the duck breasts to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing on a bias into thick slices.

5

Spoon a generous three-quarters to 1 cup of white beans onto the center of a plate and arrange a sliced duck breast on top. Repeat, using all of the duck breast; you will have some white beans left over for another meal.

This can also be made without the duck breast by increasing the garlic sausage to 3/4 pound or more.

Russ Parsons is a former food writer and columnist at the Los Angeles Times.
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