It was none other than the great Julia Child who taught me to roast a duck. There’s something so refined about a roast duck–kinda like, “Oh, yeah, I had some time this evening so I ROASTED A DUCK. And I’m going to serve it on my FINE CHINA with a perfectly paired WINE and CLOTH NAPKINS!” Never mind that I was all by my lonesome. And there was neither fine china nor wine nor cloth napkins with which to serve my lovely bird.
When I mentioned it to a co-worker he gave me this look that was part disbelief and part sheer pity. Whatever, I roast ducks by myself on Friday nights. That’s the moral of the story. At least I’m eating well (Mom). I need to make some friends.
So, duck. It’s a lot more versatile than most people seem to think…it’s like a really fatty chicken, really, so I wish it wasn’t so intimidating. Expensive, yes…intimidating, no. Personally, I’m a fan of duck in sweeter sauces–Julia has a recipe for duck with peaches that I’m DYING to try as soon as they start selling them at our Farmers’ Market–but just a nice marinade of red wine or lemon juice with a little oil, salt, and pepper will turn our beautifully.
This time, I opted for an Asian-style marinade. It’s nothing crazy and came out tangy and sweet while the skin of the duck was lightly crisped and the meat melt-in-your-mouth-tender. Obviously, cooking time will differ depending on the size of the duck (mine was almost 5 pounds exactly). Julia has a nice table of cooking times in her book, but I’ve found that you kind’ve have to eyeball it a little because every oven (and, as I’m learning, altitude) is different. My 5-pounder took an hour and a half and I let it rest about 10 minutes before I stared carving. if you’re bird is 4 1/2 pounds, for example, I’d subtract about 10 minutes and test it for doneness. To tell if it’s cooked through, give the thigh a poke–you want juice that’s either a really light pink (medium-rare) or yellow (well-done).
One last note…SAVE THE FAT!!! I’ll be posting an extra special duck fat-laden recipe later this week
1 Whole Duck, about 4-6 pounds
1 Medium Onion, quartered
1/4 c Coconut Aminos
1/4 c Rice Vinegar
2 t Fresh Ginger
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 c Sesame Oil
1/4 t Dry Mustard
Wash the duck and pat dry. Remove the gizzards and the neck (they’re great to toss in a stock or make a pate). With a sharp fork or knife, prick the skin all over.
Whisk together your oil, vinegar, coconut aminos, ginger, and seasonings. Brush a quarter of the marinade all over the duck (generously) and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the duck from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (about 15 minutes). Place in a large roasting pan, place the onion inside the cavity, and truss the legs with twine. Brush with another light layer of the marinade.
Place in the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes (give or take depending on the weight of the bird and oven strength). Every 20-30 minutes, remove the duck and brush with the remainder of your marinade and baste with rendered fat. When it is done roasting, remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
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