Thursday, October 7, 2010

Upon Roast Duck


It's true - I take the easier way to roast a duck. Is this a surprise? I bought a secondhand rotisserie oven a few years back. After inspecting around the oven, plugging it in to see the lights indicating that it actually powered up, opening the oven door and checking that all the accessories and instructions were included, I paid the seller and began carrying it to my car. As soon as I lifted the oven, the knob fell off. The knob was actually broken before I purchased it but the seller could not be bothered with admitting those minor details.

As a typical Southerner, not wanting to make a scene and believing that no one is ill-intended to a fault, I dismissed the broken knob and insisted it wasn't an issue. I would just contact the company to order a replacement part. I have contacted the company by email to request information on ordering parts, but they haven't replied. I could call, but that is on tomorrow's to do list. The rotisserie works fine. I just have to wedge the flat handle of a measuring spoon into the spot that would hold the knob to turn on the oven.

So roasting a duck is super easy in the rotisserie. Mine does not have a temperature control. I just truss the duck, load it in the oven, turn it on and after about 1 1/2 to 2 hours the duck is golden. If you happen upon a rotisserie or already have one, follow the manufacturer's instructions. Otherwise to roast a duck in the oven it will take about 30 minutes per pound/60 minutes per kilogram at 350°F. The internal temperature should be 180°F when measured at the thigh joint. The makers of my particular duck, Brome Lake Ducks, suggest cooking it for 2 hours, breast side up, covered in a roasting pan. Then 30 minutes more, uncovered.

To prepare the duck for roasting, remove any offal the duck manufacturer may have kindly stuck in it's cavity. Do what you will with those depending on your preference for organ meat. Give the duck a good rinse under water and wash that cavity out good. Now, dry the duck with some paper towels. I like to take this time to notice and remove any missed feather tips. I also cut off extra fat from the bird.

There are several fancy ways to truss a duck. I just take two lengths of butcher's twine and tie the legs and wings against the body. It works well. I believe proper chefs describe a way in which you take one length of string and secure the bird in one fell swoop. Your choice.

I don't season my rotisserie duck for two reasons. The first is that this bird, while turning on the rotisserie, will baste in it's own fat for two hours and that is a fairly tasty combination alone. If you are cooking in the oven, get out your baster. The second reason is that I like to use this duck in a variety of recipes that I will season accordingly. Otherwise, salt the duck, inside and out, early to increase the moisture content for a standard oven preparation. Allow time for the water to be reabsorbed into the duck after salting.

After roasting the duck use the bones for making duck stock. The rendered fat is great when used on roast vegetables.  

Ingredients
2.6 kilograms/5.7 pounds whole unseasoned Peking duck

Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse, dry and trim excess fat from the duck. Salt the duck inside and out and allow time for the moisture to be reabsorbed. Secure the legs and wings against the body with kitchen twine. In a roasting pan, cook for 2 hours, breast side up, covered. Continue cooking for 30 minutes, uncovered. Internal temperature should be 180°F.

If using a rotisserie oven, follow manufacturer's instructions. Otherwise, cook the duck, unsalted or salted, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on size, in ovens without a temperature setting. Check for doneness by inserting a kitchen thermometer into the thigh joint. Internal temperature should be 180°F.

To carve: Cut off the legs and wings first. Cut the two breasts off by positioning the knife along the top and cutting at an angle between the bone and the breast. The rest of the duck should be picked for remaining meat which will be used in the recipes to follow.

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