Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Let's roast duck

But let's discuss first, just to get a few things out of the way.

Duck is expensive.

More than chicken. But think how much a dinner for four of roasted duck would be at a nice restaurant.

Duck is weird!!

What always strikes me first when I unwrap a duck is that they are sort of . . . rectangle. It is not round like a chicken. It has a big old chest, with a thick layer of fat beneath.

And little bitty legs. This makes sense: Duck are made for swimming in cold water, not running around the barnyard.

But most of duck is DELICIOUS!! It is NOT greasy if you prepare it correctly. And preparing it correctly is NOT tricky, just time consuming. Got a chilly day when you want to stay inside? Looking for a good reason to have the oven on for over three hours? DUCK!

My method of roasting duck is cribbed from several recipes I have collected over the years.

I start by marinating it for at least three hours and up to overnight in a combination of equal parts dry sherry and soy sauce.

I can truss a chicken in my sleep, but as I have indicated, this is not a chicken. Many ducks into my roasting adventures have brought me to this method. I tie the legs together and pull the tail (ducks have quite a lot of tail) up through the legs.

Next, I take a sharp knife and make little slits in which I stuff the tips of the wings. Finally, I make several little slits in the breast skin so the fat can drain out while roasting.

Speaking of draining out, it's really important to place the duck on a roasting rack that holds it above the bottom of the pan. Otherwise you will end up with a big greasy mess that will fulfill every fear you have ever had about roast duck.

The key to good duck is in the roasting. I roast duck at a low temperature (325 degrees) for three hours and crank up the oven  to 450 degrees for twenty minutes to put a final crisp on the skin. 

Another part of my roast duck is this delicious sauce, which I've tweaked from a recipe I cut out of a magazine years ago. It can be made the night before, refrigerated, and heated up before serving. This time I had a particularly shitty bottle of cheap Trader Joe's port (I'm hardly a Port snob, but honestly, this was nearly undrinkable), so instead of pouring it down the sink, I used it to make a large batch of this sauce, which I will freeze in portions. It is delicious over beef and totally rocks pork.


1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup Port
1 spring fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cup into 1/2" pieces

Bring cherries, broths, Port, and thyme to a boil in a sauce pan over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup.

Add cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Add butter one piece at a time, whisking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Marinate duck in equal parts dry sherry and soy sauce.

Rinse duck well. Tie feet and pull tail up and through. With a sharp knife, make small slits in the side skin to tuck the wing tips into. Make several small slits in the breast skin. Pull neck skin down underneath body and place bird breast-side up on a roasting rack over a pan. 

Roast at 325 degrees for three hours. Turn up oven to 450 degrees for 20 minutes to crisp up skin.  Remove and let rest half an  hour before carving.

This is one of Husband's favorite meals (right up there with fresh Dungeness crab) and is so what he requested for his birthday dinner this past weekend. We also had roasted asparagus spears wrapped in proscuitto,  goat brie with crackers, fresh baby radishes, asparagus risotto, roasted beet salad, and tossed green salad.

And since my Meyer lemon tree is in full production, I book-ended the meal with a lemon drop martini made from my homemade limoncello and a lemon souffle with vanilla creme anglaise sauce. Recipes and links (you know who you are) coming up later this week.


The Food Librarian said...

This looks soooo delicious! I love duck but never made it myself. You rock.

Caroline said...

I can do roasted chicken in my sleep. Growing up in East Texas, I ate a lot of duck gumbo, which is delicious. I love roast duck, and it's been on my "to learn to do" list for some time. I'm going to attempt it after tax season.

Heidi said...

YUM! I can smell the goodness thru the computer!
I have never made duck myself but if I see it on the menu at a nice restaurant, I usually always order it!

lisagh said...

Lord have mercy! That looks divine.

Kate said...

yummm. I could go for a rosemary lemondrop martini any day- probably my favorite adult beverage.

Purple Flowers said...

What a menu! The Husband must have been a very happy camper!!

The Wife said...

I am giving this to my husband to try. There is a French restaurant here that is "meh" but the one thing they get right is duck in cherry sauce. I love it. Thanks for the recipe.

adozeneggs said...

I had to butcher ducks at my restaurant job. Odd little things, but they made THE most awesome duck confit. Super gross to look at in the walk in, giant tubs of little duck legs suspended in duck fat, but so yummy.
Your duck is about the same as it is for me to buy a chicken at the Farmer's Market. The last one I bought was $15!!!
That's why we've switched to tofu.

Deb said...

I have never made duck! That looks delicious. The martini looks fab as well.

tommie said...

While I have never made duck anything, this looks doable and wonderful at the same time!

You know, Monkey is here now, I know he is so Jonesing to go to the bay area!