Saturday, April 14, 2007

Roast Duck

Last summer when I went to Beijing, I ate Peking duck almost every other day. Being a Shanghai native, my taste buds could not adjust to Beijing cuisine, with the exception of Peking roast duck. I wanted to make Peking duck at home but after reading a few recipes, I was frightened... very frightened. Strange and foreign equipment that do not belong in a kitchen such as a bicycle pump was required. I'm sorry but my bicycle pump is covered in cobwebs in the garage and I’m not venturing into the unknown any time soon to inflate my duck. The next step was to ladle boiling liquid onto the duck with one hand while skillfully suspending the duck over the pot of boiling liquid with another. Pot of boiling water, slippery duck, and clumsy me? That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Then I had to hang the duck for a day to dry out the skin, some people even hang their duck in the bathroom. Can you imagine walking into your bathroom and seeing a duck dangling from the shower rod? That would be quite the sight. Basically "authentic" Peking duck was out of the question. The next best thing was duck with Peking-style flavors that could be done in a day.

The main problem with duck is that it is really fatty so all the fat needs to be rendered out for the skin to be crispy. I wanted a duck with beautifully bronzed crispy skin with succulent meat without devoting my entire weekend to it. This duck was done in about 2 hours. The flavors were really excellent but the skin was not as crispy as I would have liked. Next time I will try Saveur’s 5 hour roast duck recipe.

Roast Duck
Adapted from Tyler Florence’s Chinatown Steamed and Roasted Duck

1 duck
4 green onions
3 (1/4 in) slices of ginger
2 star anise
peel of one orange
2 tsp salt
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp dark soy sauce (light soy can be substituted)

Steaming the duck helps render out some fat. Remove the giblets and cut off excess skin and fat. Stuff the duck with the aromatics: green onion, orange peels, ginger, and star anise. Steam the duck for 30 minutes. I used a large Dutch oven with a steamer insert on the bottom to prop up the duck. You can also use a roasting pan and a v rack, and tightly seal the pan by wrapping it with foil.

Using a fork, bamboo skewer, toothpick, any pointy object, poke holes all over the duck skin but do not pierce the meat. Be sure to poke plenty of holes in the "armpit region" of the duck where there are a lot of fat deposits. Make the dry mix, combine the salt, five spice, and pepper in a bowl. Remove and reserve the stuffing and rub the dry mix all over the inside and outside of the duck. You can steam the duck early in the day and at this point you can let the duck dry in the fridge to roast later.

Stuff the duck with the aromatics again. Baste the duck with the honey soy sauce mixture. Prop up the duck on a rack set on a roasting pan or tray and roast at 375ºF for 30 minutes, breast side down. Flip the duck breast side up and roast for another 30 minutes. Pour off fat from the tray if too much accumulates. Tent the parts that are getting too dark with foil.

Serve with hoisin sauce. Remember to keep the bones to make duck stock.

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