How to Prepare a Gourmet Crispy Duck Salad with Watercress and Orange?

April 8, 2024

At-home gourmet cooking has become increasingly popular, as more people discover the joy of experimenting with different recipes and ingredients. One particularly delicious dish that has captured the hearts and taste buds of many is the crispy duck salad with watercress and orange. This recipe introduces a beautifully composed salad with a medley of flavors – the sweet and tangy orange, the peppery watercress and the rich, fatty duck. This dynamic combination of flavors creates a salad that is as delightful to eat as it is to look at. By following this guide, you can create this gourmet dish in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Ingredients and Preparation

Before we delve into the actual cooking process, it’s essential to gather all the necessary ingredients and conduct any necessary prep work. For this recipe, the main component is the duck which can be prepared in two ways: roast or confit. Roasting involves cooking the duck in the oven at a high heat for a certain period of time. While confit, a more traditional French method, involves slowly cooking the duck in its own fat. Whichever method you prefer, the result should be crispy, golden duck that will add a hearty element to your salad.

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To complement the rich taste of the duck, the recipe involves a light and zesty orange dressing made from freshly squeezed orange juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. This not only adds flavor but also helps to balance out the richness of the duck.

The final components are the salad greens. Watercress, with its distinctive peppery flavor, is a fabulous choice. However, feel free to mix and match with other greens according to your preference.

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Cooking the Duck

Whether you’ve chosen to roast or confit your duck, it’s important to ensure that the skin becomes crispy while the meat remains tender. For a roast duck, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and season the duck with salt and pepper. Place it on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for about an hour.

For a duck confit, you’ll need to salt the duck legs and leave them in the fridge for about 24 hours. Rinse off the salt and pat dry before cooking. Cook the duck legs in a pan with enough duck fat to cover them and heat at a low temperature for about 2 hours.

Preparing the Orange Dressing

While your duck is cooking, you can move on to preparing the orange dressing. Grate the zest of one orange and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix until it emulsifies and becomes a dressing. This tangy, zesty dressing will cut through the richness of the duck and add a burst of freshness to the salad.

Assembling the Salad

Once your duck is ready, allow it to rest for a few minutes before chopping it into slices. In a large salad bowl, add your preferred salad greens, slices of duck, and segments of fresh orange. Drizzle the orange dressing over the salad and gently toss to ensure every element is coated.

Final Touch – Chocolate Sauce

In an unexpected twist, this gourmet salad can be served with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. The addition of chocolate might seem unusual, but its rich, deep flavor pairs surprisingly well with the duck and orange.

To make the sauce, heat some heavy cream in a saucepan and add chopped dark chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth. Drizzle over the salad before serving.

This recipe for crispy duck salad with watercress and orange is a testament to the joy of cooking and the magic of combining flavors in unexpected ways. It invites you to experiment with different ingredients and techniques, and to find joy in the process of creating something beautiful and delicious from scratch. Even though it might seem complicated at first, each step is straightforward and easy to follow, making this recipe approachable for cooks of all levels. So, don your chef’s hat and start cooking!

Serving Suggestions and Variations

When it comes to serving your gourmet crispy duck salad, a few strategic choices can significantly enhance the dining experience. The salad can be artfully arranged on a large platter or divided into individual servings. A larger platter allows your guests to serve themselves, adding an element of casualness to your gourmet feast. If you prefer a more formal presentation, individual servings can be artfully arranged on salad plates.

This versatile salad pairs well with a variety of wines. A fruity, light-bodied white wine like a Pinot Gris or a Chenin Blanc complements the duck’s richness and the salad’s citrusy notes beautifully. Alternatively, a medium-bodied red like a Pinot Noir or a Grenache can also work well, particularly if the wine has a hint of fruitiness to stand up to the orange.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are several ways to customize this recipe. You could replace the orange with other citrus fruits like grapefruit or lime for a different tangy twist. Similarly, while watercress is a great choice for this salad, other peppery greens like arugula could work just as well. If you prefer your salads with a little crunch, you could add some slivered almonds or toasted pine nuts.

For those who enjoy spice, consider adding some thinly sliced chili peppers to the salad or into the dressing. This can add an exciting, spicy note that complements the salad’s existing flavors beautifully.


There’s a certain satisfaction to creating a gourmet dish like a crispy duck salad with watercress and orange. The process of roasting or confiting the duck, creating a homemade dressing, and assembling a beautiful salad is a labor of love that’s well worth the effort.

This dish offers a blend of flavors and textures that are sure to delight the taste buds. The crispy duck, whether roasted or confit, is the star of the show, while the sweetness of the orange, peppery notes of watercress, and unexpected hint of chocolate add depth and complexity.

The beauty of this recipe lies in its versatility. Feel free to add your own twist by varying the ingredients or even introducing new ones. The most important thing is that you enjoy the process of cooking and the resulting meal.

So, whether you’re an amateur cook looking to try something new, or an experienced chef seeking a fresh take on classic dishes, this crispy duck salad with watercress and orange is a delightful addition to your culinary repertoire. Don your apron, gather your ingredients, and let the joy of cooking take over!