Duck Tales: Roasting a Whole Duck

Oh duck. I have taken your beauty, but given you delicious flavor from moist cooking

Shop Rite in Midwood Brooklyn is a super-duper market. It has a meat department one city block long. Somewhere among the 100's of cuts of pre-packaged meats I found a pile of ducks. I grabbed a mid-sized 6lb whole duck and checked out. From that duck I was able to make 2-3 pounds of luscious dark roasted meat, 6 oz of pure rendered duck fat, 2 handfuls of duck cracklings, 1 quart of duck stock, and a duck liver, heart, and kidneys I have plans to turn into some paté. Expect a few of those recipes soon.

What a long neck my duck had

I hate when people use the flavors of other foods to describe another. Tastes like chicken, can't get any less creative. Duck does not taste like chicken. Sorry to rely on the cliche, but duck may be the "pork "of the poultry world. It has a stronger richer flavor then turkey, Cornish hen, or even chicken. Moist, and hopelessly fatty from a thick layer of fat under it's skin.

Having no idea how to roast a duck. I instinctually searched for a recipe on Epicurious. The duck wasn't cheap ($18), and I wasn't going to dry it out or burn it away with a somewhat reliable or not internet recipe. Gourmet magazine had my back. I sought the most complicated multi-step recipe. Easy and fast wasn't going to cut it. I settled on braising (moist heat to cook the meat), chilling (to prevent meat from cooking further while roasting) before roasting shortly (to crisp the skin). The product was a perfectly luscious (I think!), but less than butcher shop brown attractive duck. I will definitely be leaning on this process from now.

If you haven't tried duck, and are anxious to spend $20, 8 hours, and lots of residual oven heat on a strong flavored meat you may dislike look for duck legs or breast first. I'm sure they have them at places like the giant shop rite.

Roast Duck With Ginger Marmalade Glaze

1 5 1/2 - 6 1/2 lb Long Island duck
sea salt
1 carrot, sliced length wise into medium strips
6 green onions, chopped in half, root ends removed
1/2 cup sugar
hot water
1 tblsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 large pinch red pepper flakes

Glaze
2 tblsp marmalade
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tblsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 pinch cayenne

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare duck by pricking skin all over with a fork, which allows the fat to drain out. Place duck in a roasting pan. Note that a pan with higher sides is better than the one I'm using. With breast up, and cavity towards you gently separate skin from meat with your hand. Be careful not to tear the skin, which I did. I needed to use a knife, making a slit above the cavity to get under the skin. I'm not sure why this step is necessary, you aren't going to shove butter or herbs under the skin as you would a turkey, but I do as I'm told.

My hand inside a duck

Coat the skin and cavity with salt and rub. Place carrots and scallions in the cavity of the bird. Sprinkle ginger, coriander, and red pepper on top of duck, along with sugar around the bird. Add hot water (shrinks the skin, again don't know why, doing as told), within an inch of the top of the roasting pan. Cover the pan tightly with foil, and place in oven.

Flavor rubbed

After 1 hour remove from oven. Carefully peel back foil. Using a wooden spoon placed in the duck's cavity and a spatula, carefully flip the duck breast side down. Re-cover roasting pan with foil and cook for another hour until meat is tender. The wings on my duck actually fell off. A snack for me! Move duck into a bowl full of ice cubes. Strain remaining fluids and save. That's some rich duck stock and fat for another dish. Chill duck in fridge on ice for 2-3 hours until cavity feels cold.
Not so elegant after 2 hours of cooking in hot water, but moist

Meanwhile prepare glaze by mixing the marmalade, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and cayenne pepper in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until bubbling. Once the marmalade melts turn remove from heat.

Remove duck from fridge, and pat dry. Heat oven to 500 degrees. Place a piece of foil on the bottom of the roasting pan. Place duck breast side down on top of foil. Brush glaze over the bird. Roast for 15-20 minutes until browned. Remove bird from oven, flip, glaze the breast side, and return to oven. Roast for another 15-20 minutes until browned. Remove from oven, and let rest. It's finally ready. You and everyone in a one block radius will know by the delicious smell. I couldn't help but tear into my duck, eating a leg off the bone. The rest I shredded and served on sandwiches with cucumbers, mayo, and pickled ginger carrot relish. You could also carve and serve the breast for a formal meal.

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