Farmers Market Favorite
Spring Duck Sausage & Brussels Sprout Salad with Cherry & Pecan

It's always exciting to find new products from my favorite market vendors. Belle Vie Farms, in addition to offering duck eggs, duck fat, and duck charcuterie including pate, rillettes, and mousse, is now selling fresh duck sausages in two varieties-- Italian seasoned, and Spring, with kale and herbs. I couldn't wait to get my hands on these beauties, and this salad, with spring vegetables and fruity flavors proved to be the perfect complement to the salad's bright star, courtesy of Belle Vie's happy ducks. It was a big hit among market-goers-- Belle Vie sold out on Sunday! I'll bet you'll enjoy this quick work of a light meal with a little European flair, too! 

Not in Austin? No worries. I've provided some suitable substitutions for the locally-sourced products in the ingredient notes, following.


Serves 2 for a full meal

  • BelleVie Farm Spring Duck Sausage
  • BelleVie Farm Duck Fat
  • One bunch kale (B5 Farm), trimmed, stalks removed, chopped finely
  • 2 C brussels sprouts (JBG Organics), trimmed, quartered
  • ¼ C dried cherries (see ingredient notes, below)
  • ¼ C pecan halves  (Yegua Creek Farm)
  • 2 T good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 t honey (Austin Honey Company)
  • 2-4 ounces black pepper cheddar, crumbled (Dos Lunas Cheese)
  • 1 cup stock (duck or chicken stock)
  • ½t dried thyme (or a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, destemmed)

In a heavy skillet over medium high heat, saute chopped kale in 2 tablespoons duck fat. Remove to large mixing bowl. 

Saute brussels sprouts, adding duck fat to pan if necessary, until edges slightly brown. 

Add dried cherries and pecans and toss well with sprouts. 

Drizzle vinegar and honey over and mix well, stirring frequently for about two minutes. Remove to mixing bowl and toss with kale.  Toss in crumbled black pepper cheddar cheese.

To the warm skillet, brown duck sausages on each side. Add stock to pan and simmer sausages until cooked through. Remove sausages, increase heat, add thyme, and reduce stock, scraping bits from the pan, to make about a ¼ cup pan sauce.  Add to vegetable mixture and toss well. 

Divide salad on serving plates, top with 1-2 links of sausage, and serve.

Ingredient Notes

If you have the fortune of living in Austin or the surrounding area, you’ll find the vendor sources listed for all ingredients at the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller.

Suitable Substitutions

Spring Duck Sausage-- Any fresh sausage of your choosing will substitute. Skip anything smoked or cured and head to the butcher case. A chicken or turkey sausage, perhaps with the addition of apple, greens, onions, herbs would be good. Try to stay away from heavy-handed seasoning. If links are large, one will do. If smaller, allow 1-2 links per serving.

Duck fat—you could get away with a little schmaltz, or chicken fat, if duck fat is unavailable, but a little extra effort to find ‘duck butter’, as it is often called by chefs is worth the effort. High quality lard (pork fat) could be used as a last resort.

Kale and Brussels Sprouts—if you’re close to a local farmers’ market, you’ll find these in season right now in many areas of the country. Any variety of kale will do, and you can use the brussels sprouts greens, rolled into a ‘cigar’ and sliced thinly, if you have access to a big beautiful stalk like those from JBG. In lieu of that, you can plump up the greens component with collard greens, which have a similar texture, or use all kale. If using baby brussels, halve or leave whole. 

At the market, Yegua Creek Farm offers a trail mix of dried cherries and blueberries, pecans and cashews. It was an easy hack to simply use a handful of this delicious combination. Cherries with duck is a classical pairing, so in lieu of that convenience, use pecans and dried cherries from the bulk section of your local market. Try to find cherries with no sugar added—if that proves fruitless (see what I did there??), omit the added honey.

I used local honey in this recipe, and I recommend you do the same. Local honey has a reputation for keeping seasonal allergies manageable; no small feat in Central Texas or any spring weather location for that matter. It will make little difference with the small amount in this dish, but using local honey to sweeten beverages and more, over time, has shown to be helpful with the sneezy, watery, red-eyed plague.

The Dos Lunas Black Pepper Cheddar is a favorite local nibbling cheese, however should you encounter difficulty finding a black pepper cheddar, any good-quality artisan cheddar will do, especially if it has those characteristic slight salty crystals. Grab a cheesemonger at the market and go with their suggestions. Grind some fresh black pepper into the salad if you’ll miss the pepper, (like I would). 

Stock? Well if you have access to duck stock, by all means use it. The idea, here, is to layer the duck flavors through use of duck fat, duck stock, duck sausage. It lends a kind of European luxury to this simple but refined meal. It might be a little pricey, or a little rare to find in your area. I’ve used chicken stock with success, and should you be unable to find the other duck items, you’ll still benefit from layering the flavors as mentioned by using good quality chicken sausage, chicken fat, and chicken stock.

No doubt, some of these items cost a bit more than generic sausage, cooking oil, and less than fresh vegetables, but using them in smaller quantities, and bulking up the meal with extra green is the way I remain within my conservative food budget. Higher quality, full-flavored food is fully satisfying, in smaller quantities. My motto: Eat better. Eat less.

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