Almost everyone I speak with tells me they’ve never cooked a duck which is a pity, as they’re delicious and no more challenging than roasting a chicken – with added benefits.
This recipe is impressive, drop dead easy and if you haven’t yet decided what to cook for Christmas dinner – try this for a change.
Most supermarkets will at the very least have oven-ready frozen duck if you can’t find a fresh one. You’ll have to remove the giblets from the cavity along with any nasty little plastic packet labeled ‘orange sauce mix’ that sometimes lurks in there and which I recommend dumping.
The liver is a treat in itself; pan fried and eaten on hot buttered toast with some cranberry relish. Make a stock with the remaining giblets then give everything but the neck to your dog.
Anyway, back to the duck; before I do anything at all, I trim off the excess skin and fat from both cavity ends, cut them into small pieces and render over a low heat in a wide pan. It takes about an hour and you’ll need to occasionally press down on the bits with the back of a spoon. What you’ll end up with is the most glorious fat for roasting potatoes, parsnips, sauteing cabbage, etc.
Potatoes roasted in duck fat taste superior to any other type of roast potato. Duck fat freezes well and you can munch on the crispy little bits left over in the pan after you’ve strained the fat off – a million miles better than those store-bought packets of pork rinds that some folks like to chomp on.
So, now you have some rendered duck fat and a whole, defrosted or fresh duck with a clean cavity.
You do need to start 2 days ahead as you have to marinade the duck first; otherwise this is foolproof and absolutely wonderful.
Serve it with rice – I like to serve it with ‘Pulao Rice with Saffron, Dried Fruits & Almonds’ – or perhaps some potatoes you’ve roasted in the rendered fat and a green veg on the side such as steamed Brussels sprouts with Chestnuts. The duck meat should be slightly pink.
SPICED LACQUERED DUCK
You’ll need an oven-ready duck (fresh or defrosted) weighing 5 lbs / 2.26 kilos
Ingredients for the marinade:
1 cup (8 fl oz / 228ml) of tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons of dry sherry
2 tablespoons of packed soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of Hoisin sauce
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon of Chinese 5-Spice powder
½ a teaspoon of cayenne
Pre-heat the oven to 400F / 200C.
Remove the duck from the marinade – discard the marinade. Drain the duck really well and pat it dry inside and out with paper towels.
In a deep sided roasting pan on a rack, roast the duck for 45 minutes, breast side up. Turn over and roast for another 15 minutes until it’s a lovely deep brown. Carefully drain the liquid from the cavity and tent the duck with foil – allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Note: the fat that has collected in the bottom of the pan can be strained and frozen as well – it would be great for making stir-fried rice or a spicier type of roast potato.