Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
This French ploughman's lunch can be made in advance and just assembled last minute for an elegant starter, brunch or lunch.
Slices of creamy goat cheese are nestled in a pile of rocket with ham, duck confit and a quick homemade red onion chutney.
Add a balsamic glaze, cornichons and crusty bread and you are good to go!
Why you will love this dish
Have you heard of a Ploughman's lunch? I remember it was one of the first meals that pubs served. Typically it would consist of great doorsteps of bread, a hunk of cheddar some pickled onions and chutney. If it was a posh pub you might get a piece of ham!
I think it's rare to see it offered anywhere these days so I thought I would give this old classic a revamp. with French ingredients for a dinner party starter.
All the work can be done the day before and it can be plated just before serving.
What are the ingredients?
I wanted this dish to have lot of textures so I've used slow roasted duck legs. These are perfect for making fork tender meat and retaining a crispy skin.
For flavour I've also used sliced smoked duck breast, which is available in some supermarkets. You could also use some cold roast chicken as a substitute.
To contrast with these flavours I've used some thin cured ham, like serrano or prosciutto. It can just fall on the plate, in a tangle, rather than a flat slice.
The cheddar is replaced by goat cheese, which is creamy, salty and tangy. It's used often served warm in French starters.
To serve, I've used cornichons, which are like small dill pickles, and some rocket or arugula.
A ploughman's lunch normally included a chutney, (normally referred to as a pickle in the UK), but I've used a quick red onion chutney as it's deliciously sweet with the goat cheese.
How to make this dish
First cook the duck.
Prick the skin and sprinkle with sea salt in an oven dish. Tightly cover the dish with foil and roast for about 2 hours at 150C/300F until the duck is really soft when you put a fork into the meat.
Drain off the fat and place under a preheated grill for a few minutes to crisp up the skin.
Shred the meat with two forks so that there is a mixture of meat and crispy skin.
At this point you can let the meat cool and refrigerate for a day or two before serving.
Next make the onion chutney.
Slice the red onions and soften gently in melted butter for about 5 minutes.
Add the brown sugar and vinegar and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Leave to cool then refrigerate until needed.
When you are ready to serve add a handful of rocket to each plate, some duck confit, smoked duck, ham, cornichons, chutney and sliced goat cheese.
Decorate with some redcurrant sprigs and a little balsamic glaze if you like.
Perfect as a starter or light lunch served with some French bread and salted butter!
You could use whatever cheese you like, cut as mozzarella with tomatoes. A combination of blue cheese goes well with the addition of walnuts, slices of pear and small sticks of celery too.
Rather than using duck use some poached and smoked salmon for a lighter option.
More French appetisers
French Ploughman's Lunch
- 2 duck legs
- 60 g sliced smoked duck
- 100 g thin sliced cured ham
- 2 red onions sliced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vinegar red wine or cider
- 50 g butter
- 12 small cornichons
- 1 bag rocket
- 100 g goat cheese
- balsamic drizzle optional
- sprigs redcurrant optional
- Place the duck in a roasting tin, prick all over, sprinkle with salt, cover with foil and roast at 150C300F for about 2 hours.
- Remove the foil, drain off any fat, re salt and place the duck under a preheated grill for a few minutes until the skin is crispy.
- Shred the duck meat with 2 forks.
- Make the chutney by melting the butter over a medium heat and then adding the sliced onions. After 5 minutes add the sugar and vinegar, stir until dissolved and then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Assemble the dish adding a pile of rocket to the centre, arrange the meats casually around and place the cheese and redcurrants on top. Decorate with cornichons or capers, a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a pot of chutney.