Smoked Duck and Red Wine Poached Pear Salad By Simon Attridge, Executive Chef at Gleneagles

Christmas has arrived at Gleneagles - the trees are decorated, the lights are on and the smell of mulled wine is in the air. It is a magical time for everyone, including the chefs. Our winter menus are in full swing as we make the most of delicious, comforting dishes and prepare for the festive period. This seasonal salad is one of my favourite dishes at this time of year. It’s hearty, warming and also relatively healthy but still with a bit of indulgence that’s ideal in December.

This dish is an interpretation of classic salad that we have on the menu at The Century Bar with smoked duck, celeriac and walnuts. You’ll also find poached pears on the menu, so it really is a flavour of Gleneagles in winter. This is a great recipe to cook in the run up to Christmas as the pear poaching liquor with red wine, cinnamon, cloves and star anise fills the kitchen with a festive aroma. What is also great about this recipe is that it’s a celebration of Scottish produce as it uses duck from a nearby farm shop and Arran blue cheese.

Even though it’s a salad, the addition of the big flavours and warm potatoes means that it’s perfect to enjoy in the colder months, especially after a walk on a sunny crisp winter weekend. You can prepare most of the elements in advance and then just do the final cooking once you get home. I like to serve the salad in a big sharing bowl and place it in the middle of the table for everyone to get stuck into. Homemade sourdough bread or a good quality loaf from the bakers is the best accompaniment. Smoked duck is available at most farm shops, but if you can’t find it, you can use other cured meat or even smoked chicken. You can also remove the meat altogether to make it a vegetarian dish, just add more cheese and potatoes.

As you can imagine, Christmas Day is one of our busiest days in the kitchen. Every year, we welcome families from all over the world to Gleneagles for Christmas and Hogmanay to create special memories that will last with them for a lifetime. For me, food is one of the most important parts of the festive period and so start preparations well in advance. On Christmas day, once we serve the last guest, the whole kitchen team sit down together and enjoy a meal. The smoked duck salad is one of the dishes we will be tucking into this year, alongside turkey and all the traditional trimmings, followed by the Gleneagles & Co Christmas pudding.

For more information visit or contact Gleneagles’ dining reservations team on 01764 69 4270.

Serves 4


2 good quality smoked duck breasts

2 chicory

2 baby gem lettuces

8 large new potatoes

Olive oil

150g Arran blue cheese

Sea salt

For the poached pears:

4 conference pears, peeled

375ml red wine

100ml Cassis

100g sugar

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

4 star anise

5g fresh ginger, grated

1 orange, zest only

1 lemon, zest only

For the candied walnuts:

20 walnuts

55g butter

70g brown sugar

For the vinaigrette:

5ml sherry vinegar

15ml white wine vinegar

60ml olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

To serve:

Fresh bread


In advance:

1. First, make the red wine poached pears. These need to be prepared and cooked 3 days in advance to take on the colour and flavour of the wine and aromatics. Boil the red wine and then light it to burn off alcohol. Add the Cassis and sugar to the pan and then add the pears, and the rest of the ingredients to the pan and bring to boil. Cover in a cartouche (a circle or baking paper to keep the steam in) and simmer the pears until they are just cooked. Remove the pan from the heat and leave pears in liquor to cool.

2. Once cooled, put the pears in a plastic container and strain the liquor back onto pears as they should remain submerged whilst stored. Reduce some of the leftover liquor to a syrup for when you serve the salad.

3. Next, prepare the candied walnuts. Make a light caramel with the butter and sugar and then fold in the nuts. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 160°C degrees for approximately 25 minutes on a non-stick mat, moving every 5 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and then allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

On the day of serving:

1. First, prepare the potatoes. Cook them in lightly salted water until they still have a little bit of crunch and then refresh them under cold water. Pat the potatoes dry and then chargrill on a griddle pan with a little olive oil until they take on a char marks.

2. Next, make the vinaigrette. Whisk all the ingredients together, season with a little salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Thinly slice the smoked duck breast and cut the poached pears so that you do not use the seeds or stalk that runs down the middle of the pear.

4. Finally, assemble the salad. Build the salad in the serving bowl with the washed chicory and baby gem lettuce and chargrilled potatoes as the base. Add the duck and pears and then rustically crumble the blue cheese on top. Break up the candied walnuts over the top of the salad and dress with reduced pear cooking liquor and vinaigrette. Serve with warm, fresh bread and enjoy.