Pan-Roasted Teal and Pearl Barley Salad; Damson Vinaigrette
Portion/Yield:Serves 4 as a main course
We are situated in a part of the British Isles where game is enjoyed by young and old. The tradition of shooting is passed down through the generations and with it comes the appreciation and enjoyment of eating and cooking game. Teal is one of the wild ducks that is plentiful throughout the shooting season, which lasts from September to the end of January.
This dish is autumn on a plate: the woodland taste of the wild girolles and the damson vinaigrette work beautifully with the teal, as the fruitiness cuts through the gamey duck, and the barley adds substance to the whole dish. I serve a whole teal per person for a deliciously rich main course.
Ingredients & Method
For the pan-roasted teal and pearl barley
- 4 whole teals, plucked and gutted (about 250g each)
- 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 300g pearl barley
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 banana shallots, finely diced
- 200g fresh girolles, cleaned
- 2 tablespoons golden linseeds
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the damson vinaigrette
- 200g (prepared weight) fresh ripe damsons, stones removed
- 200ml cold water
- 75g caster sugar
- 20ml sherry vinegar
- 100ml rapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
- fresh thyme leaves, to garnish
First, prepare the pan-roasted teal. Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. Remove the legs from the teals and place in a roasting tin, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle over 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil and scatter over the thyme leaves. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the skin is crisp and the meat is tender. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes, then flake the meat from the bones. Transfer the meat to a plate, set aside and keep warm. Discard the bones.
Meanwhile, to make the damson vinaigrette, place the damsons, water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the damsons are cooked and soft. Carefully transfer the damsons to a blender, add the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients, then blend together until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to an airtight container, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to develop (see Cook’s Note).
Meanwhile, cook the pearl barley. Rinse the barley under cold running water, then place in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of fresh cold water. Cover the pan and bring to the boil over a high heat, then boil rapidly for 25–30 minutes or until the barley is cooked and tender. Add a little salt 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Remove from the heat and drain, then transfer the barley to a bowl, set aside and keep warm.
Melt the butter in saucepan and once it is foaming, add the shallots and girolles and sauté over a medium heat for about 6 minutes or until softened and golden brown. Remove from the heat and add them to the bowl of warm barley, along with the flaked leg meat and linseeds and toss to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then add the lemon zest and juice to taste. Set aside at room temperature.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. To cook the teal crowns, heat the remaining rapeseed oil in a non-stick frying pan until hot. Season the teal crowns with salt and pepper and add them to the pan, then cook over a high heat for about 2 minutes on each breast or until golden brown. Transfer the teal crowns to a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 10 minutes for rare or 12 minutes for medium. Remove from the oven and let the teal rest for 5 minutes, then remove the breasts from the crowns, leaving the skins on the breasts. Discard the bones.
To serve, spoon the barley mixture on to serving plates and place the teal breasts on top. Serve immediately with a drizzle of damson vinaigrette and a scattering of thyme leaves to garnish.
Keep any leftover damson vinaigrette in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 1 week. Serve the vinaigrette over pan-fried monkfish or mackerel with roasted golden or red beetroots, or stir it through a warm salad of roasted beetroot, feta and cress.