Recipe: Yellow watermelon and crispy duck salad from The Corner Pantry

Chef Neill Howell's crispy duck and yellow watermelon salad at The Corner Pantry in Baltimore.
Chef Neill Howell's crispy duck and yellow watermelon salad at The Corner Pantry in Baltimore. (Brian Krista / Patuxent Publishing)

Corner Pantry chef and co-owner Neill Howell is known for his way with British specialties and his fresh, easy take on casual meals. Here, he combines some of late summer's best ingredients, from bright yellow watermelon to herbs clipped from the garden, in a colorful and simple-to-make salad.

Tossed with citrusy soy dressing and topped with duck cooked in its own fat then re-crisped in a hot oven, the salad is fresh, savory and full of late summer's most-loved flavors.


Yellow Watermelon & Crispy Duck Salad with Sesame Soy Dressing
Yield: Two entrée-size salads

For the sesame soy dressing:
1 tablespoon yellow rock sugar (crystallized cane sugar available at Asian grocery stores and online)
1⁄2 cup light soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Dash of Sriracha

To prepare the dressing:


Place the yellow rock sugar in a bowl. Pour the soy sauce into the bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

2 Add the sesame seeds, lime juice and Sriracha. Whisk until the liquids are combined.

For the salad:
2 duck legs
2 cups duck fat
1⁄4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 jalapeno, sliced into rounds, seeds remaining
2 cups ripe yellow watermelon
1⁄2 cup basil, picked and ripped
1⁄2 cup cilantro, picked and ripped
1 summer radish, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

To prepare the duck legs:


1 Season the duck legs with salt, and let them sit overnight.

2 Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

3 In a pan, cover the duck legs with the duck fat and cook in the oven for about 2.5 hours, until the meat is almost falling off the bone.

Remove the duck from the fat and let cool.

To prepare the pickled jalapeno:

In a pot over high heat, combine sugar and rice wine vinegar, and bring to a boil.

2 Place the sliced jalapeno in a heat-proof bowl or dish, and cover with the sugar and vinegar mixture. Let cool to room temperature.

To prepare the salad:

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the duck in a nonstick pan, skin-side down. Reheat in the oven for 12 minutes to crisp the duck.

3 While the duck is heating, with a sharp knife, peel the watermelon and discard the skin. Cut the watermelon into bite-size pieces, and place 2 cups of watermelon in a large bowl.

4 Wash and slice the radish and add to the bowl.

5 Pick the basil and cilantro, wash and gently rip with your hands. Add to the bowl.

6 Add the pickled jalapeno and crumbled feta to the bowl.

7 Toss the ingredients in the bowl with the sesame soy dressing. Divide between two plates.

8 Once the duck is crispy, remove the thigh bone from each leg by pulling it away from the meat. Dice the leg meat.

9 Sprinkle the duck meat over the salads and serve.

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