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Tuesday 6 November 2012

Making duck part 1- roasting a Peking duck and prep for casoulette!

I don't know what went through my head when I decided, hey, since I'm, making one duck, I might as well experiment and make two! So starts the debacle of me making a huge mess in my kitchen over the course of 2 days, but yielding two very tasty dishes: roast duck flavored peking style and a duck casoulette. I've split up the post into 2 parts, part 1 on roasting a duck, and part 2 on me making an Asian style duck casoulette - I'm sure there's a French chef spinning in his grave somewhere at light speed at my (lack of) technique as I bungle through things. That's ok, they can join the Chinese chefs mimicing the French chefs - hah!

Traditional Peking duck is made by marinating/brining a duck, air drying it out, pricking the heck out of its skin, blowing it up like a balloon, suspending it, then laboriously scooping boiling hot oil over it over and over until the skin is a crisp golden brown and its cooked through. Since I had no intention of french kissing a duck - alive or very much dead anytime, I marinated the duck Peking style, but used the oven instead of giving it a hot oil bath. After spending an inordinate amount of time plucking (yes plucking and swearing!) erratic little feather shafts off the tips, underside of wings and inner thighs... as well as prepping duck #2 I was going to make into a casoulette, this cleaned up little guy got rubbed in a dry marinade...

which I made moist with a lot of alcohol. According to my grandma, the more alcohol you dump in, the better. Yes mam!! Into the fridge overnight to get nice and happy, then out to come up to room temp ~1hr.  Ideally, flip it once halfway thru so both the breast and thighs get nice and flavorful.

There's a lot of methods for "shortcutting" how to make Peking duck. Some involve steaming the duck for an hr before roasting for an hr, some involve blow drying the duck with a fan. I didn't see how any of these methods would save me time so I simply tossed my duck into a roasting pan suspended over a water bath. Figured the water would keep things moist and hopefully the skin would crisp up in oven. Tossed in green onions and some ginger into the cavity and pricked the heck out of it with a fork - this helps the fat render (melt off) and give you crisper skin. You could render it slowly off by slow "searing" the duck - but I really didn't want to slave over the stove rendering it only to roast it some more in the oven.

And just shy of an hr later, I nearly burnt the heck out of the crispy skin! I had brought the duck up to room temp, and though my oven safe meat thermometer read 190, luckily, my duck must have still been a bit cold when I stuck it into the oven, as the duck gushed liquid gold and juices when I pierced it, and the breast was just shy of medium, and medium rare close to the bones. Whew!  We sat back to enjoy the yumminess, though, next time, I think I'll chop the duck in 1/2 so both the topside and bottomside of the skin gets all crispy yummy.

And here be the recipe for anyone fool-hardy enough to want to attempt the above:
1 young duck cleaned of feathers
2 Tbsp granulated garlic
3 tsp Chinese five spice powder
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 cup white wine (can do 1/2 cup white+ 1/2 cup red.. sub with chicken broth if you're planning to make this gluten free)
2 shots Canadian Club or a decent whiskey (don't use if you are planning to make this gluten free)
How to
1. Mix all marinade ingredients together and rub the duck well. Marinate overnight.
2. Prick duck skin all over really well with fork. Place 1-2 quartered pieces of green onion and 2 medium slices of ginger root inside duck cavity
3. Place duck on water bath - ~1.5cups water in pan, place rack on top of water pan to suspend duck - juices will drip into water bath. Roast at 375F for an hr - keep an eye out for burning!

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