My quest to learn how to cook every item in the butcher’s case continues. This year I am determined to cook at least one new dish every week. I am inspired by listening to family traditions of others, and love to see how beautiful dinners can bring friends and families together.
The brisk mornings these past few days have reminded me that its time to move from the grill back to the oven. A favorite dish to order when I see it on the menu, is roast duck. I love the way it melts in your mouth, and really consider it a treat, especially when it is served with a sweet glaze! So this week I conquered my fear of roasting a whole Pekin duck….and wow was it simple!
Let me start by saying that I had no idea there was a difference between Pekin and Peking duck! Yep, you learn something new every day…In my research about preparing duck the first thing I realized is that Pekin is a certain breed of duck, while Peking is a famous duck dish from Beijing that has been prepared since the imperial era.
So here we go, with Pekin duck. I asked the butcher to order one up. He brought home a beautiful little D’artagnan fresh, farm raised all natural duckling. The reason he works with this company is that they pride themselves in sourcing Pekin duck from two well-established family farms; each is dedicated to continuing humane farming traditions while incorporating the most modern techniques. Pure vegetarian diet, no antibiotics, no hormones.
For the glaze I used a jar of Stonewall Kitchen Cherry Berry Jam. Simple….yet fancy!
You will need:
One D’artagnan Pekin duckling
One jar of cherry jam or preserves ( I used Cherry Berry from Stonewall Kitchen)
1/4 cup of lemon lime seltzer or ginger ale
Five carrots (peeled)
Five heads of garlic
One bunch of fresh thyme
One lemon (quartered)
3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
Course salt and fresh ground pepper
One 32 oz box of chicken stock (Kitchen Basics is my favorite )
Kitchen string to truss the duck
A meat thermometer…..(I never cook without it)
One really good roasting pan with handles
Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Start by cutting the tops off of five heads of garlic and placing them cut side up in your roaster pan. On top of them lay 3/4 of the bunch of thyme. This will act as a “rack” to keep your duck off the bottom of the pan.
In a small bowl, mix 3/4 of the jar of Cherry Jam with 1/4 cup of seltzer or ginger ale. Set aside.
Next you will remove the duck from its package and remove the innards that are placed in the cavity of the duck; I placed the entire duck inside a large bowl before opening the plastic since there are some accumulated juices. Rinse the entire duck inside and out under cool running water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place the duck, breast side up, on your cutting board. There will be a longer piece of skin at the neck. Cut this piece off with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Salt and pepper the inside cavity and stuff it with 2 quarters of lemon and 2 whole carrots. Truss the legs together by winding a nice size length of kitchen string around each leg and tying them together.
Place the duck, breast side up, on top of the garlic. Pour the rice vinegar over the skin evenly and season generously with fresh ground pepper and course salt. Pour half the chicken stock into the bottom of the pan along with the remaining carrots and lemons. Roast your duck for one hour, turning the pan at the halfway point and adding additional stock.
After one hour of roasting, remove the pan from the oven and baste with Cherry jam mixture. Return duck to the oven for another fifteen minutes. Baste again and roast for fifteen minutes more, which should bring you to the one and a half hour mark. At this time, remove the duck from the oven and use your meat thermometer to check the temperature. Place the meat thermometer between the leg and the breast to get an internal temperature of 160 degrees. My oven runs hot, and the duck reached temperature by one and a half hours. Since every oven is different, it could take a little longer than that which is why your best friend is that meat thermometer. It works every time!
Once your duck has reached temperature of 160 degrees, remove pan from the oven and place on cooling rack. Use the remaining 1/4 jar of jam to baste the entire duck and cover loosely with foil. Let sit for 20 minutes before carving.
Lucky enough I had the butcher on hand to carve the duck for me. Start by removing each leg by cutting between the leg and the breast and pulling the leg down and outward. Next remove the breast meat and lastly the wing. Serve along side roasted red potatoes and sweet carrots.
I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was to roast a whole duck; Similar to roasting a chicken although it will be pink it the middle….and that’s ok! My house was filled with a delicious fall scent as the butcher and I enjoyed this yummy meal. I would say that it could feed three people, but if you have big eaters you’d better roast two…