What the Duck?
A friend of mine was visiting from out of town and he was going through some life changing events. He decided he was going to be more adventurous when it came to the foods he ate, so Pepé and I suggested a roast duck. He said, “sure, why not”? Well… It’s not always easy to find a packaged duck in our local grocery stores, so after calling around, I found a couple of options at a near by Asian market. They had one frozen and one not. I wanted the thawed duck because I planned on cooking it that day. So my friend and I drove to the Asian market to pick up the duck.
I asked the butcher about the fresh duck, and he proceeded to hold the duck up by it’s head/neck with it’s feet dangling beneath. Now, Pepé and I are totally cool with this, but my friend is not used to his poultry having a head or feet, so I ask the butcher if he can cut them off. The butcher said, “yes, but you’ll have to pay for it first because I can’t sell a duck without it’s head or feet… Who would buy it”? Really? OK, I agree to pay first, so he prints out a price sticker and hands it to me. I say “alright, I’ll play along… Now what”? He instructs me to go to the front of the store to pay, then bring the receipt back to him. Off I go with a sticker stuck to my finger, the cashier scans it, I pay and back to the butcher we go. After confirming that I did indeed pay for the duck, he feels he can now cut off it’s head and feet. Buzzzzzz… I did NOT see that coming! He cuts the parts off with a band saw right in front of us. Now all of this was to spare my friend from the reality that the duck was a living thing at one point. Obviously, that ship has sailed! The look on my friend’s face was hilarious. Luckily, after all that, my friend was somehow still willing to put that crazy display behind us and try this roast duck with an open mind. He did say he was wanting more adventure. I think we delivered it that day.
Let’s get started
Preheat oven to 400°F Convection / 425°F Non-Convection. If your duck came with giblets inside the body cavity, remove them and set aside. Trim extra skin that extends past the bird and place that as well as the giblets in a sauce pan. Season with salt and pepper, cover with water and simmer on medium for at least one to two hours while duck is roasting. This will create a duck stock that you can use for making a gravy or sauce or even polenta to serve with the duck. Totally optional.
Score duck skin in diagonal pattern with sharp knife OR pierce all over (without penetrating meat) with sharp knife. Place duck on rack in 13″ x 9″ dish and pour about 2 cups boiling water over duck to tighten skin (mostly the breast). Drain all except for about 1 cup of water from dish. Drain all water from inside the duck.
Pat dry. Turn duck onto its breast side so the back is facing up. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F° Convection / 370°F Non-Convection, flip duck over so it’s breast side up and roast for another 45 minutes up to one hour. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer. The USDA recommends 170°F, but I’m happy with anywhere between140°F – 150°F. Let duck rest for 15 minutes before carving.
I seasoned these veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them during the last 15 minutes in the same oven as the duck and continued roasting them for 10 to 15 minutes more while the duck was resting. I added just a bit of brown sugar to the acorn squash.