For Christmas eve, we roasted duck for dinner at the in-laws’ place. I thought a different fowl for a change would be nice, instead of the usual turkey. In all honesty, I am not really very fond of turkey. There is the thing with the size of it and getting stuck eating turkey for 2 weeks and then there is the gameyness to it that I can’t appreciate. Duck is delicious, on the other hand.
I bought a 2.5kg frozen Brome Lake duck and it was plenty to feed 4 to 6 people easily with three side dishes and a Scottish Meat Pie (for another post for another day!) that were served that night. Duck is more festive, in my opinion. If you can find goose, even better! This recipe incorporates macerated orange zest, five spice powder and garlic; and it works for any bird you intend to roast.I also stuffed the bird with some good quality pork sausage stuffing. Basically, I just cut open the sausage casing and just pull out the meat into a bowl. For lightness, I have also added some breadcrumbs and some chopped herbs for extra flavour. I went a step further by coating the duck with a mixture of honey, corn syrup, balsamic vinegar, malt vinegar and red wine for a shiny finish. I wanted to give the duck a nice flavour on the skin and to achieve that glorious dark shellac when it comes out of the oven.
Don’t be afraid of duck. It’s anatomy is no different from a chicken or a turkey for that matter. If you have roasted chicken or turkey, you can do this. It’s really not an intimidating bird to roast at all. In fact, the bird is self-basting because of the high fat content that lives under its skin.
Now, carving it on the other hand was a bitch. But that’s another story for later. This is a recipe for roasting a duck, making it pretty and making a sauce out of the drippings on the pan.
2.5kg whole duck, defrosted, cleaned, and pat dried; remove the giblets
salt and black pepper
A: To be blended together into a paste
1 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves
1 heaping teaspoon five spice powder
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves
zest of a whole orange
2 tablespoon of orange juice
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
B: To stuff into the duck
400 grams of pork sausage, removed from its casings
2 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of rosemary (or any herbs you want)
C: To roast together
2 large carrots, cut into chunks
2 red onions, quartered
2 sticks of celery, cut into chunks
5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
leftover orange from before
leftover fresh herbs from before
olive, oil salt and pepper
D: To coat the duck with (mix all the ingredient together well)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon malt vinegar
2 tablespoons of red wine
a large pinch of salt and pepper
1 drop of red colouring (optional)
To make sauce
1/2 cup of red wine
3/4 cup of chicken stock (you can also add a bouillon mixed in water if you don’t have chicken stock handy)
1/2 teaspoon malt vinegar
Pre-heat oven to bake at the highest level you have. My oven went up to a maximum of 525F (or approximately 275C). Now is the time to prepare the items you are going to need to put into or on the bird before you start touching the bird.
Take the paste you made from A, and rub the inside of the cavity thoroughly. You want to make sure the bird is well seasoned on the inside so intend to use about 3/4 of the paste inside the duck cavity. Rub the remaining paste on the exterior the duck.
Using the sausage stuffing, take about a tennis ball size and stuff it in the neck area where there is an excess flap of skin. Make sure it covers the neck cavity well. Pull the duck skin gently over the stuffing and fold it under the bird.
With the rest of the stuffing, loosely stuff it into the cavity of the bird. And I do mean loosely, you don’t want to stuff it fully or your duck will take forever to cook because there is no ventilation. I would out a piece of orange quarter in as well, which I did but you don’t have to if you forget or don’t care to. Tie the duck legs together with some kitchen twines so that the duck holds together while it cooks in the oven.
Place the prepared duck onto the roasting tray and pop it into the oven. Remember, your oven is set at 525F. Let it roast in that temperature for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325F (or approximately 163C). Let it roast for 2.5 hours.
At the last 1.5 hour, coat the duck with a brush with the mixture you’ve prepared with ingredients D every 30 minutes.
Test the duck’s temperature by poking at the thickest part of its thigh. If the temperature is 160F-165F on the meat thermometer, we’re golden. If not, keep roasting for another 15 minutes and then test again.
Let the duck rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
To make sauce:
My favourite part. After bringing the duck out of the roasting tray, you’ll be left with a bunch of roasted vegetables, some brown sticky fond around the pan and a thick vat of fat that is about an inch high. Skim the fat out with a spoon, it yielded me approximately 250ml of fat. Yikes! Now that vat of oil you’ve collected is what the cooking world call schmaltz, use it to cook. There will be a delicious five spice taint to it that really works when you use it to stir-fry or even as a spread. And it is fattening but what is the holiday season without some fats. No pun, intended.
So put the roasting tray on top of your stove and heat up the juices that’s in it. Add the chicken stock and red wine in. Scrap the brown fonds off and mash the vegetables, especially the garlic so to make sure you get every bit of the goodness out that makes the sauce good. Let the sauce simmer down a little bit. I am not a fan of thick gravy but if you do, now would be a good time to stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (or corn flour to some of you) mixed with 2 tablespoon of water.
Once the sauce has simmered down, drain it in a sift well and it’s good for drizzling over the duck when it’s carved.
I don’t keep the roasted vegetables, I use them as a base for my sauce and then I discard them after. Now the duck is ready to serve, it took me a good whole 20mins to carve that bird with the sharpest knife I had. It was the most difficult part of the whole process but one taste of the meat, it was worth it. So succulent and delicious. I think I will be making this again and again with small variations of different spices.
Oh, don’t throw away the carcass, save it to make soup the next day. You will never be so pleased with soup if you did.