Pizza dough is my canvas.
And duck is my muse.
A pound of pizza dough, either made in minutes at home, extracted with eyelash batting from your favorite pizza shop, or picked up in a sad but serviceable plastic bag from the deli section of the grocery store, is the start of so many delicious, satisfying, crowd-pleasing meals. On an exhausted Friday night, some crushed tomatoes, garlic and mozzarella come together faster than the oven preheats. But when I have a little more time, I experiment with different pizza concepts. I’ve knocked off the fig jam, blue cheese and prosciutto pizza from Figs with great success. I’ve piled mushrooms and stinky cheeses and cured meats from around the world onto a blank canvas of dough. I’ve gone Spanish and Vietnamese, breakfast and brunchy, and made dessert pizza, with ginger-roasted pears, honey, and goat cheese. All so good.
So when I found myself with a pound of ground duck and rainy spring day, a little too cool for playing outside, I started thinking about pizza. And duck. And I though about duck a l’orange, and duck braised in a rich broth, spiked with Chinese five spice powder. And crispy duck with a drizzle of hoisin sauce and a tangle of scallions.
By the time the oven had preheated, I’d assembled some ingredients.
This is heady stuff: anise-y Five Spice, musky-sweet hoisin, garlic, salt, and a bright note of orange zest. Duck is rich and fatty–that is what makes it delicious–but it needs to be paired with big flavors to bring balance. Subtle duck doesn’t work for me.
Into the oven you go, my lovelies.
While the baking was happening, I supremed some oranges. I told you about that, remember?
And once the duck pizza came out, with a burnished crust and an intoxicating aroma, I added a little pile of herbs and oranges with a sharp vinegar dressing on top.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Five-Spice Duck Flatbread with Orange Herb Salad
1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces Maple Leaf Farms Ground Duck
2 cups arugula
1 cup orange segments
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
salt and crushed red pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into 4 even portions, shape each into a ball, and set aside to come to room temperature while you prepare the topping.
Stir together hoisin sauce, tomato paste, garlic, Five Spice, orange zest, and salt in a mixing bowl, then add the duck and work together with hands or a fork until evenly combined.
Stretch each dough portion into a thin 10-inch rustic oval, and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Divide duck mixture between the dough ovals, and thinly spread to within 1/2″ of the edges. Bake in the preheated oven until crust is golden and duck is cooked through, 9-11 minutes.
Transfer pizzas to serving plates. Combine arugula, orange segments, and rice wine vinegar in a mixing bowl, then toss to coat. Season salad to taste, then between pizzas. Serve warm, encouraging your guests to fold the whole pizza in half like a giant duck and salad taco.
You should know that the lovely people at Maple Leaf Farms sent me the ground duck for free and asked me to blog about my experiments. But I would make this recipe even if I were paying for their duck. And will. And will order some of their life-changing duck bacon while I’m at it.