I have a confession: I hate turkey on Thanksgiving. I’m just not really a fan of turkey, unless it is smoked turkey, and right now I live in an apartment. Sadly I can’t have a smoker on my little porch. So this year for Thanksgiving, my husband and I decided to roast a duck instead, and it was fabulous.
Duck isn’t really any easier than turkey, and the way I made mine, it probably takes just as long as a full turkey, but it is so worth it and delicious. I happen to think that in our busy, gotta-have-it-now culture we have lost appreciation for cooking recipes that take some time and a little attention.
The thing about duck is that it has a LOT of fat… but that’s a good thing. You see, duck fat is referred to in chef circles as “liquid gold.” It’s an amazingly delicious and unctuous fat. When I roasted my duck, I got almost 2 cups of delicious, usable duck fat. And if you are squirming right now and worrying about my arteries – just don’t. Saturated animal fat from healthy animals is actually good for you, contrary to popular belief.
Anyway, I’m not really here to convince you why you should eat delicious duck and duck fat – I’m here to tell you how to cook it.
So, the day before you are intending to cook your duck, remove your bird from the packaging and remove the gizzards. If you reserve those (like you should), you can make a delicious pate which I will teach you how to make soon. You will notice that there is a bit more fat and skin on your duck than there would be on a chicken, especially around the neck end, and the back end. Trim off the extra fat and skin, and I recommend you reserve those too and you can make duck skin cracklings very easily to snack on while you cook.
Using a very sharp knife, score the duck breast through the skin/fat layer only in a cross hatch pattern. Thoroughly salt your bird inside and out, and truss your duck with kitchen twine just like you would a turkey or a chicken. Store in the fridge, covered for up to 24 hours before you are going to roast the duck.
- On the day you are going to cook your duck, take a sharp paring knife and poke the duck through the fat/skin layer all over its body, evenly.
- Preheat your oven to 300 while you are doing this.
- Roast your duck breast side up for one hour in a deep roasting pan with a fitted rack. Remove from the oven and prick the duck all over one more time, and turn the bird over so that it is breast side down. The goal here is to get all that wonderful, delicious fat to render out while the duck is cooking.
- Return to the oven and roast for one hour with the breast side down. Remove from the oven and prick the duck all over one more time, and turn the bird over so that it is breast side up.
- Return to the oven and roast for one hour with the breast side up. Remove from the oven and prick the duck all over one more time, and turn the bird over so that it is breast side down. (noticing a pattern?)
- Return to the oven and roast for one hour with the breast side down. Remove from the oven and prick the duck all over one more time, and turn the bird over so that it is breast side up. Also, at this point, you should carefully pour off all the wonderful duck fat from the roasting pan, strain it, and reserve it in a glass jar in the fridge for later cooking uses (like my Duck Fat Garlic Confit).
- Now turn the oven up to 425. Mix together 1 tablespoon of whole-grain mustard and 1/3 cup of organic maple syrup. Brush the duck with the Whole Grain Mustard Maple Glaze. Roast an additional 10-20 minutes until the skin is browned and crispy. Rest for 15 minutes and serve.