Dandelion greens sautéed in duck fat takes two incongruous ingredients and marries them in the most delicious way possible. Dandelions are a forager’s dream and duck-fat confit garlic conjures up French luxury. Put them together and you have something that’s simply divine.
If you’ve cooked with duck fat before, you can jump into this simple dandelion greens and garlic recipe with gusto because you’ve experienced duck fat as the culinary gem that it is. Its unctuous and rich flavor is worth going that little bit out of your way for. Believe it or not, it’s close to olive oil on the health meter. You can buy containers of duck fat at fine grocers, or you can buy a duck, render the trimmed fat, and have a lovely duck ready to roast another night.–Connie Green and Sarah Scott
Dandelion Greens Sautéed in Duck Fat
For the duck-fat-roasted garlic
- 1 cup rendered duck fat
- 12 small garlic cloves peeled and tough stem ends removed
For the dandelion greens
- 2 bunches dandelion greens* or other hearty greens such as spinach or Swiss chard
- 2 tablespoons rendered duck fat
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 small cloves duck-fat-roasted garlic
Make the roasted garlic
- Place the duck fat and garlic in a small, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over low heat. Slowly bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook just until the garlic begins to turn light golden brown. The garlic will turn too dark quite easily, so keep an eye on it. If it cooks too much, it will taste bitter and unpleasant.
- Turn off the heat and let the garlic cool in the fat for about 30 minutes. The garlic will continue to brown slightly as they sit in the fat.
- Remove the garlic from the fat. If not using the garlic immediately, store the garlic and fat separately in covered containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.
Prepare the dandelion greens
- Trim the ends from the dandelion greens and discard. Wash the greens thoroughly and drain.
- If the dandelion greens are young, slice them into 2-inch-wide (5-cm) ribbons. If the dandelion greens are mature and relatively tough, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the greens into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain well in a colander. When the greens are cool enough to handle, place them on a cutting board and cut into 2-inch (5-cm) ribbons.
- Heat the rendered duck fat in a large sauté pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, add the greens, stirring to coat with the fat. Add the salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. Cook, stirring frequently, until the greens are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
*Are dandelion greens bitter?Well...yes. They can be, especially if you pick them after the plant has buds or flowers. It has something to do with maturity—maturity and bitterness go hand-in-hand for plants (and some humans. Who knew?). If you've missed the early spring cut-off, blanching before you sautée them will help to make them less bitter. As well, mixing in other hearty greens can really help.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
To be quite honest, I thought that dandelions would have a fair amount of bitterness to them, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that they weren’t much stronger than any other greens. Perhaps this was due to the brief boiling, as I had rather mature dandelions, or the duck fat, which does wonderful, deliciously sinful things to whatever you cook in it. Or, even the lovely sweet flavour added by the garlic. Whatever the case, this is a very nice side dish that's quite easy to put together.
Making the garlic is time-consuming and should definitely be done ahead of time, considering that the dandelion greens finish up in short order, even if they do have to be quickly boiled first. The finished dandelions may not look like a lot, but as a side dish, it was enough for at least three or four people. To take this dish a flavourful step further, toast a few tablespoons of pine nuts and scatter them over the dandelions and garlic just before serving.
This recipe was quite easy to make and really delivered on taste and texture. I used a mix of dandelion greens and Swiss chard. I love bitter greens but I’ve learned to mix them with other greens in order to achieve familial buy-in. I've roasted garlic in olive oil in the oven many times, but never on the cooktop, and never in duck fat. Naturally, I was intrigued about how this would change the garlic texture and color.
The resultant golden-colored cloves that retained their shape and concealed a creamy interior, boasting mellow garlic flavor, won me over! Since my greens were pretty tender, I cooked them directly in the duck fat. This took 4 minutes. I saved the stems for a different sautée as they, too, were tender.
Once the roasted garlic cloves were ready to use, I started the greens on low heat and tumbled in the tasty morsels. Then I piled the duck fat-basted wilted greens and garlic on toasted sourdough alongside Tomme cheese slices. Crostini with bejeweled greens!
Melted and simmered duck fat and garlic cloves on induction cooktop setting 3 for 25 minutes. Cooled in fat for 30 minutes. Added an extra 2 cloves for tasting and assessing texture. My finished garlic cloves held their shape and were golden with a creamy bite and mellow garlic flavor. Had 1 cup of delicious garlic-infused duck fat (and lots of ideas of how to use it!). The greens were tender, bitter yet sweet, and probably could have been cooked in the garlic-flavored duck fat.
Originally published November 2, 2010