What in the world is a Fuyu persimmon? The Fuyu is a nonastringent persimmon variety. It is sweet and delicious when it becomes orange to orange-red color and is still firm. The Native American persimmon grown in the southern U.S. and the more common pointed Hachiya persimmon are astringent varieties that do not lose their bitterness until the fruit becomes soft.
Why do we care? Ripe Hachiya persimmons are great for making cooked dishes such as chutneys, relishes, or even pies. The Fuyu persimmon is perfect for this salad because its sweetness will cut through and balance the richness of the duck while maintaining its crisp texture.
Special equipment: To cook the duck, we recommend using a cast iron pan because of its even heating properties and its virtually indestructible nature. If you use an aluminum or stainless steel sauté pan, watch the duck breasts carefully to make sure their skin is being evenly rendered.
This was featured as part of our 2007 Fruits of Fall story.
For the vinaigrette and salad:
Note: Brown Turkey figs or Black Mission figs make a wonderful sweet, fruity addition to this salad. For the duck breast, we recommend using a Magret duck breast from a female Muscovy duck. Long Island (Pekin) or Moulard duck breast will also work for this recipe, but we believe the Muscovy has better flavor and texture. Muscovy breast meat is extremely lean and the skin of this duck variety has 50 percent less fat than the Moulard or Pekin duck varieties.
Beverage pairing: A toasty, oaky-style Chardonnay from California or a Burgundy-style Pinot Noir from Oregon will match the accompanying flavors in the salad without getting lost behind the richness of the duck. Recommended: 2001 Shafer, Red Shoulder Ranch, Chardonnay, Carneros, California; or 2001 McKinlay, “Special Selection,” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon. For a sexier match try a dry sherry with nutty, caramelized flavors and a clean, long finish: Berrys’ Fine Dry Oloroso Sherry, Spain.