Duck and scallops, together forever in this elegant salad recipe

Simple is always better. I’ve said it so many times when I cook. Sure, sometimes I get mired down in complex recipes, but a handful of great ingredients with just the right touch of care always bring the greatest rewards. That couldn’t be truer than in this duck and scallop dish. On a menu in Stonington Borough, Connecticut, a charming little seaside village, I found this gem. Water Street Café is a quaint, eclectic restaurant that is always busy, even in the dog days of winter. The fare is remarkably fresh and creative. Every meal I’ve eaten there (and I’ve had many) has been terrific. Particularly, I’ve always been fond of a very simple preparation of duck and scallops they serve. An unlikely pair, to be sure, they are prepared and served simply over some lightly dressed greens.  The flavors are clean. Succulent, rich duck with light and briny scallops are both seared simply –but to perfection. I had to try this at home.

My version borrowed a warmed spinach recipe from Chef Domenica Macchia (Bella Brava, St. Petersburg, FL) for the base. I then topped it with the seared duck breast and scallops and was immediately swept back to the little New England hamlet where I’d fell in love with this in the first place. If you choose to make this at home, it’ll take you all of 20 minutes and you’ll be impressed, I think. This is my next dinner party offering and I can’t wait.

Duck and scallops over just warmed spinach

4 duck breasts

16 large sea scallops

6 cups loosely packed spinach

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

1 shallot, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1. Salt and pepper both the duck and scallops. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, sear the duck breasts (begin with fat side down) until internal temperature is 135 degrees –about 6 minutes per side. Remove duck from heat and set aside to rest. In the same skillet, add the scallops to the remaining duck fat and sear for 2-3 minutes per side until a nice golden crust forms on each scallop. Set scallops aside as well.

2. Drain the remaining fat, if any, and add butter and olive oil to the same pan. Add the shallots and garlic and allow to cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn the heat off and add the spinach. Squeeze lemon juice over, toss to coat. Remove spinach from pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, divide the spinach up amongst 4 plates. Slice duck breasts and also divide amongst the plates. Add 4 scallops to each serving. Enjoy!

Serves 4.

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