This is going to be about roasting ducks, but if you want my thoughts about goose preparation, they can be found here. I am good at roasting duck. I have done it about once a year for about 12 years, so I feel like I have it sorted out. It used to feel a bit daunting, but then one year I made duck confit from scratch and roasting a duck has seemed simple since then. Roasting duck really isn’t difficult and your efforts are rewarded in three ways. Not only do you get delicious duck meat, but you can also make stock from the bones, and you end up with about a cup of delicious duck fat. That’s enough duck fat to fry potato pancakes in for the rest of the winter! Or you could make Squash and Red Wine Panade (known by my friends as Duck Fat Soup) and still have a bit leftover to make Braised Red Cabbage with Apples. Sometimes I fry my eggs in it!
I learned how to roast a duck from Sheila Lukins’ USA cookbook. Sheila Lukins was also one of the authors of the Silver Palate Cookbooks. Many of my favourite meat recipes come from one of her cookbooks! If you are interested in learning how to cook meat you might invest in one of her books.
ROASTED DUCK WITH A CRISPY SKIN
- 1 duck (5 to 5 and 1/2 pounds)
- 1 orange halved
- 1 granny smith apple cored and quartered
- 1 large bunch of thyme
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse the duck in cold water and pat it dry.
- Remove the excess fat from around the neck and inside the cavity (I usually skip this). Reserve any giblets for making stock.
- You may need to use a pair of tweezers to remove a few stray feathers.
- Gently prick the skin all over with a fork without piercing the flesh. Sometimes I forget to do this and the skin turns out less crispy, but the meat is even more moist and tender…..so its good either way.
- Rub the duck all over, inside and out with the halved orange. I usually give it a little squeeze.
- Sprinkle the duck inside and out with salt and pepper and stuff it with the apple and the orange halves.
- Place the duck, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. If you don’t have a rack use some carrots. My husband’s cousin made a carrot rack for a pork roast at Christmas and it was both clever and delicious. Wrack or carrots, the duck must be lifted up or it will sit in its grease as it cooks and get soggy. It is helpful if you have a real roasting pan with high sides (as opposed to the Pyrex baking dish that I used for years). The duck will render a surprising amount of fat and you do not want it to over flow in your oven. If you don’t have a roasting pan, be prepared to scoop some fat out of the pan every time you open the oven to baste.
- Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Sometimes I skip this and it isn’t the end of the world. The meat just cooks more evenly if the legs are tied.
- Bake the duck for 30 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Continue baking for another 1 and 1/2 hours to 2 hours, basting every half hour to make sure that the skin gets crisp.
- To test for doneness, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a knife. If the juice runs out clear it is done. A meat thermometer should read 180 when placed in the thickest part of the thigh).
- Remove the finished duck to a platter and let it rest 15 minutes before carving.
- Strain the juices and the fat from the bottom of the pan and discard any brown bits. When it cools the fat will rise to the top. Add the juices to your bone stock and reserve the fat to use for future cooking!
There is one more thing…Your duck will still have thick layers of un-rendered fat just under its crispy skin. I like to put all of these slabs of fat in a metal vegetable steamer in a large pot and bake them at 325 degrees until all of the bits make delicious crispy duck cracklin. There will be another half cup of duck fat rendered in to the bottom of the pan which can be added to the first batch. If you are a friend of mine who has eaten my roasted duck and are wondering why you have never been fed this delicious duck cracklin, it’s because…. I eat it all myself….except for the little bits that I feed my kitty. I’m sorry.