Saturday, October 9, 2010

Whole Roasted Duck

I had originally wanted to serve duck breasts for my dinner party, but after visiting Orland Meat Market & Deli, I learned there's quite a price difference between the breasts ($14.99/lb.) and the whole duck ($2.99/lb.) so I changed plans.

The owners Spyros and Helen talked me through it and gave me the confidence I needed to tackle a whole duck. I have never cooked duck, much less a whole one, so I was nervous.

I found some simple instructions online and talked it over with my brother to tackle it low-and-slow for the best results. Ducks are water fowl, so they have an extra layer of fat between their skin and the meat. This fat needs to be rendered off, so it's best to cook for a long period of time at a low temperature.

2 ducks, approximate 5 lbs. each
Kosher salt
black pepper
fresh garlic

Begin by removing the neck and giblets from the duck's cavity. Using kitchen shears, cut off the wing tips and any large gobs of fat around the cavity openings. You can save all of these things to make stock later.

Rinse the duck in water, and then pat thoroughly dry using paper towels. The trick to crispy duck skin is starting with a dry bird. Using a very sharp paring knife, make diagonal slits all over the bird. Take special care across the breasts and thigh areas. Do not pierce the meat or it will become dried out during cooking. (I'm sorry I did not get a picture of this step!) Rub the cavity liberally with salt and pepper, and stuff with several minced cloves of garlic.

Edited to add: Video below of the process to slit the duck's skin to help render the fat.

Put the duck breast side up on a rack over a roasting pan. Place in a 300° oven for 4 hours. Every hour, remove the pan and flip the ducks over. Using a turkey baster, remove the duck fat from the pan each hour, reserving for later use. Removing the fat will help with splattering and smoking in the oven.

I opted to carve the duck traditionally, as one would with a chicken. Breasts, wings, legs, and thighs were portioned with each guest getting a piece on their place. It was phenominally juicy and tender, with a crispy, roasted skin.

I'm pretty sure this was my first time eating duck (besides stealing a bite off of Johnny or my dad's plates) and it was definitely my first time cooking it.

I have to say it was another success. It turned out better than I anticipated and most of my guests had never had duck either. Everybody seemed to like it, and one guest even named it as their favorite dish of the evening!


Simply Life said...

Once again, I'm so impressed and thanks for making this sound like it's actually do-able!

sophia said...

I think this might have been my favorite dish, too. The sauce you picked out, of course, is stunning...and I think it was INCREDIBLY brave of you to get a whole duck for this event where you'll be showcasing your product to guests! Once again this is just making me PISSED OFF that you didn't make it! Boooo! >:-(

On a more positive note, you're still awesome, and I know every guest thought that, too!

Jenn@slim-shoppin said...

I've actually never even eaten duck before in my whole life!

Yours looked like it turned out great though! And who knew the breast meat was so much more than buying the whole thing??

Awesome job!~

Christo Gonzales said...

I would have loved to taste this dish - I love duck - NYC spoils a person - I can get a whole roast duck already roasted for 12 bucks in chinatown - we do it all the time...

Biz said...

You were so brave to attempt duck! You know, I don't think I've ever had duck either - my husband loves it though.

Wow, what a difference in price! Hope you had a great weekend Christina!

SkippyMom said...

I have to ask, since the recipe is incomplete, but what exactly did you serve the duck on? I see carrots and that looks like polenta, but I am at a loss for how this was served.

Duck can be intimidating to some - but you handled this with aplomb and good advice - and it is fabulous, but I want to know -what went with this, please?

Christina said...

The recipe above is for the duck only, so it is not incomplete. Click the bold "dinner party" in the first sentence to see the entire meal. Or, visit the posts before to see the other recipes. These are also listed on my side bar archive (see: Parmesan Parsley Polenta). The carrots were simply tossed w/ some maple syrup and roasted. I didn't realize if somebody was making roasted duck they would want to make it w/ my exact sides - sorry.