Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Roast Duck

Here in the Ozarks, the late Fall grocery store stock up includes frozen ducks. When they arrive, I usually buy two or three to go in my freezer. Nancy and I absolutely love duck. While we lived in London we bought a Gressingham duck from a meat monger at Borough market, a twice weekly outdoor market at the Borough underground stop. That duck became our gold standard - free ranged, fresh slaughtered, never frozen, and a good two pounds heavier than what we can get here. If we could find something similar here, we would have duck at least once a month.

For this article I thought I would give you a photo essay on spatchcocking a duck and roasting it.

Roast Duck Preparation

Thaw your duck on a plate in the refrigerator for three days. The plate will catch juices if they leak from the plastic bag.

Remove the duck and remove the neck and organs from the cavity. While you are doing so, remove and throw away the disgusting orange sauce packet.

Dry the bird and grab a small sharp knife and your poultry shears. Relatively easy dissection awaits.

The first step is to remove the wishbone. On a duck the shape is slightly different from a chicken or turkey and the bone itself is larger and stronger. Use the small knife to cut the flesh from the wishbone, both inside and outside the inverted V. On ducks I find it easiest the free the point of the V and pull it down to lever the tips out. This is the exact reverse of what works best on a chicken.

Once the wishbone is out, use the shears to remove the wing tips, the tail, and the huge amount of fat and skin around the cavity opening by the tail. During processing, the processors may have left a long tail of neck skin. That goes too. Everything you remove goes into a stock pot with a large onion, a stalk of celery, a carrot, a bay leaf, and some parsley. The duck stock and duck fat are worth their weight in gold later.

Turn the duck over and use the shears to cut the spine from the carcass.

Open the bird and begin to remove any bits left during the original processing.

Using the small sharp knife, split the keel bone cartilage down the middle lengthwise.

Generously salt and pepper the now flat cavity and invert the bird onto a wire rack over a sheet pan.

When I can, I do these preparation steps in advance and put the pan with rack, uncovered, in the refrigerator for several hours to air dry.

When the time comes for roasting, set the oven shelf to the middle and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Pierce the duck skin, but not the meat, many times to aid in reducing the fat and browning the skin. [If you are lazy like I am, you can use a sharp knife to slash the skin instead.] Spray the bird surface with spray olive oil to help the browning. Season the top of the bird as you desire (I usually use salt and pepper only). Roast for 10 minutes at the scorching temperature and then reduce to oven to 375 degrees. Roast an additional 30 to 40 minutes. You want the legs and thigh meat to reach 155 degrees. The breast, which is thicker when you spatchcock, will be a lesser temperature. Tent with foil and rest 10 to 20 minutes. The temperature will rise to the 160 degrees recommended by the FDA.

[Do NOT Try This At Home Note: I do not target the FDA recommended temperature. Duck does not carry as high a risk for salmonella as chicken. I risk a slightly lower temperature to have some pink left in the breast.]

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