Wow - was this a stressful dinner to make. The stress was self imposed because it really wasn't too difficult. I was stressed because I had already bought the duck so I was committed and after doing research it sounded impossible to make a duck that wasn't swimming in fat.
I relied on the cookbook, The Best New Recipe: All-New Edition by Cooks Illustrated Magazine to guide me through. Have you had a chance to pick this cookbook up and read it? It's great because the writers will take a dish and cook it various ways to test which cooking method makes the most flavorful result. They have also taste tested ingredients to guide you on which brands or products taste the best. For something like a cooked duck, which I've never cooked, it was a great resource. Although what caused me to be in a tizzy, is all the stories of the end product, in most cooking methods, being duck swimming in fat. But lets be fair. Following the guidance of the steam and roast cooking methods DID result in a very good dinner so I'm glad I had the resource.
Duck isn't something I would do often, mainly because of how much waste there was. After trimming excess fat I probably threw away as much fat in weight as there was meat in weight. Seemed wasteful but again, it was really good so cooking a whole duck is probably perfect for a special dinner once a year. I started with a whole duck and cut the bird into each piece: breast, wing and leg/thigh. Duck is probably much more economical and less wasteful if you are able to buy the individual pieces.
I didn't follow all the directions. Specifically I reduced some of the cooking time and temperature. I made up my own version of a yummy glaze that I thought would pair nicely with the duck flavors.
Duck with Orange Brandy Glaze 1 3 pound duck
Glaze 1/4 cup of orange marmalade 1/4 cup of brandy salt and pepper
The writers of The Best New Recipe experimented with straight roasting, boiling and then roasting, and steaming and then roasting. Of all these methods the method that they said rendered the most fat out of the duck was the steaming/roasting version so this is what I did.
Cut the duck into sections keeping the leg/thigh together in once piece. Place a roasting rack in a metal roasting pan. Fill the bottom with water right up to the bottom of the rack so that the duck is not sitting in the water. Place the duck sections on the rack. Cover the pan with a piece of tin foil large enough to ensure a tight seal all the way around the pan. Place the pan on a burner on medium heat. Steam for about 35 minutes. After the 35 minutes of steaming, CAREFULLY loosen the seal. Slowly let the steam escape being careful not to burn yourself.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together the ingredients for the glaze and place in a microwave for 20 seconds to loosen it up.
Place the duck pieces on a foil lined baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes brush the duck with the glaze and roast for another 10 minutes. The recipe from the cookbook cooked the duck longer, at a higher temperature, and instructed that you pull the breast meat out and allow the legs to cook for additional time. By looking at the duck during the cooking stage I thought that would cause the leg pieces to be overcooked. I adjusted the cooking time and temperature and I'm glad I did. I was able to get the crispy texture on the skin and the meat was incredibly moist.
Food is so intriguing. I’ve always loved to cook whether it’s casual and simple or complicated and elegant. After living in the Midwestern United States all my life I find myself jumping between All-American foods and foods from other cultures. There is definitely a sense of comfort with cooking and enjoying food that I’ve grown up with.
I have a voracious curiosity to learn about all cultures, especially the Middle East/Mediterranean, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai foods. I’ve learned that a simple curry dish or an Asian dumpling can transform your mood and be just as much of a comfort food as the foods you’ve known you’re whole life.
It is fascinating to me how each culture has such a diversity of ingredients, and when used with different combinations and cooking techniques you can easily transform the same few ingredients into a multitude of dishes. The unfamiliar, the diverse ingredients and techniques, can be intimidating to many people. I’ve created this blog to chronicle and share my explorations in the kitchen so that hopefully you will want to start experimenting in your kitchen.