Roast Duck 101
There’s a world of intense flavor to be discovered when you choose to roast a duck instead of taking the tried-and-true path with chicken. Yet many cooks find duck intimidating. The reason, in a word, is fat. Ducks wear a thick coat of it, and fatty skin is not a pretty prospect. Not to worry. After using our guide to roasting a duck, you’ll have a crisp, bronzed bird ready for carving. Some of the duck fat will baste the meat. The rest of this liquid gold can be spooned off to cook with in the future (think roasted vegetables or duck confit). A word about the varieties of duck most commonly available: Muscovy very often has a strong flavor that tends toward gamy, while the Pekin, or Long Island, is milder. Whichever bird you choose, it will be a delectable departure from the usual dinner.
- 1 whole duck 5 to 6 pounds
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips with Chili Powder optional
- Orange Marmalade Pan Sauce optional
- Kitchen shears or a sharp paring knife
- Roasting pan
- Carving knife
- Line bottom of oven with foil to catch any spatters. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in second-lowest position. Rinse duck in cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Use kitchen shears or a sharp paring knife to cut away fatty deposits and excess skin around neck area and just inside the bird’s cavity.
- Cut through last joint of wings to remove wing tips, and place them in roasting pan with neck (which is usually included with giblets by the butcher). Place wing tips and neck in a large roasting pan fitted with a rack.
- Hold a narrow paring knife almost flat against duck’s skin and make shallow pricks everywhere but drumsticks. Don’t forget the areas where the thighs join the body. Score skin of breast in a crosshatch pattern. Season inside and outside of duck with pepper and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt.
- Use a light touch with paring knife to gently crosshatch skin’s top layer on breast side to facilitate release of fat. Be careful not to cut all the way through skin into flesh.
- Place duck, breast side up, on rack in pan. Roast for 50 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven. Set duck on rack in a sink or over a towel to catch drips. Spoon off excess fat from pan; strain, and reserve 1/4 cup if making roasted vegetables. Tilt duck to drain, pouring juices from cavity into roasting pan. To ensure even browning, turn duck twice during roasting. Use paper towels to lift bird from pan. Return duck, breast side down, on rack to pan. Roast for 50 minutes.
- Flip duck, breast side up, and roast until duck registers 165 degree on an instant read thermometer, about 50 minutes more. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Spoon off fat from roasting pan (reserve if desired). Carefully tilt duck, and pour accumulated juices from cavity into pan. Reserve neck and wing tips in pan with juices if making pan sauce.
- After duck has rested, place it breast side down on a carving board, and cut along both sides of backbone.
- Flip duck breast side up. Slice along ridge of breastbone to remove meat. When you get to the thigh bone, sever the joint. Remove wings if desired.
- Separate leg quarters from breast. Slice breast into serving pieces. Sever joint between leg and thigh.
- Serve duck with roasted vegetables, and drizzle with pan sauce.
Roasted Cornish Hens with Orange-Honey-Mustard Glaze
Duck works well
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 Tbs grainy mustard
- 2 Tbs Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbs honey
- 2 shallots finely chopped
- 1 tsp orange zest finely chopped
- 1 c orange juice
- 3-4 Cornish hens
- orange slices for garnish
- Combine all ingredients (except hens and orange slices) in a large bowl.
- Carefully separate the skin from the hens, being careful not to tear it or remove it from the birds.
- Place the hens in the bowl with the marinade, and massage the marinade underneath the skin.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 425º F.
- Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil and place the hens in the pan, along with a small amount of the marinade.
- Roast the hens, basting with the pan juices ever 15 minutes, for 40-45 minutes or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced and the skin is golden brown.
- Garnish with orange slices.
Crisp-Skinned Roast Duck
This recipe results in a well-done bird with crisp skin and meat that almost falls off the bones. It involves four hours of cooking time — the first two at a low temperature to fully render the fat — as well as turning the bird a couple of times to brown it all the way around. No roasting rack is required for this treatment, and the duck does not suffer for it.
- 1 Peking duck 5 pounds
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-third position.
- Remove the fat from the cavity of the duck. Rinse the duck under cool running water and pat it dry with paper towels. Thoroughly season the duck with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the duck, breast side up, in a large skillet or roasting pan and place in an unheated oven. Turn the temperature to 300° .
- After 1 hour, remove the pan from the oven. Carefully remove any accumulated fat from the roasting pan, leaving any juices behind. (If the juices have caramelized in the pan and threaten to burn, add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Replenish the water to maintain an even low level throughout the cooking process.)
- Turn the duck, breast side down, and roast for 1 more hour.
- Turn the duck breast side up, increase the heat to 350 degrees and roast for about 2 hours, until the skin is well-browned and crisp and the legs wiggle easily in their joints. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh meat should register 180 degrees.
- Transfer the duck to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and set aside to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
- 1 Peking duckling Long Island, about 5 pounds
- Six 1 by 3-inch strips orange zest
- 1 small onion halved
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds lightly crushed
- 8 whole black peppercorns lightly crushed
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 large garlic cloves crushed and peeled
- A day before roasting, remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the bird and discard. If necessary pluck any stray pinfeathers off the duck with tweezers. Trim the neck flap and excess fat from around the cavity. Rinse and dry the bird well. Set the duck on a rack on a baking sheet, and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours.
- Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Pierce the duck’s skin all over (including the back), every 1/2-inch, with a skewer or small knife. Season the cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with 3 strips of the orange zest and the onion. Set the duck on a rack in a roasting pan, and pour a cup of water in the pan. Roast the bird for 3 hours, removing the duck from the oven every hour to prick the skin again.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine the remaining orange zest, molasses, honey, coriander, pepper, orange juice, vinegar, and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring, over medium-high heat until warm. Remove glaze from the heat and set it aside at room temperature while the duck cooks.
- Remove the duck from the oven and carefully, pour off the excess fat from the pan. (If desired reserve this fat for frying potatoes or wilting greens.) Raise the oven temperature to 450 degree F. Return the duck to the oven and roast until crisp and brown, about 30 minutes more.
- Let the duck rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before carving. Brush the duck’s skin with glaze 4 to 5 five times during the resting period. Carve the duck and transfer pieces to warm serving platter. Serve the remaining glaze at the table to drizzle over the duck, if desired.
- 1 T kosher salt
- 1 t paprika
- 1 t pepper
- garlic cloves stuff into cavity
- orange quartered
- 2 celery pieces
- onion quartered
- Remove giblets and trim excess fat from neck and tail areas
- Wash and remove pinfeathers
- Brine duck several days beforehand and let dry
- Prick skin 1” apart front and back, making sure to NOT prick the meat (or criss cross)
- Fold neck skin over and secure with tooth pick
- Tuck wing tips
- Roast uncovered on a rack in a shallow roasting pan (lined with foil) BREAST side up.
- 425 ° for 15 minutes, then 350° for 45 minutes, Drain fat
- Prick again
- Turn duck over and roast 30 minutes, flip and prick, return to “breast up” for 15 minutes or longer. Turn up to 450° if needed.
PLAN ON 22 minutes /pound
- Let rest 15 minutes, remove celery and stuff.
- Carve. Orange sauce is good.