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Duck enough for 3 meals – part one roast

July 9, 2009

As I’m currently trying to be a spendthrift I’m always on the look out for multi-meal ingredients, and the 2kg $56 ducks at Taste certainly fill that category.  This duck is enough to feed 2 people 3 meals. I’m sure these birds aren’t free-range or organic (those marks on the leg joints might be hock burns I suppose), so this doesn’t score high on an ethical level , but they are surprisingly tasty, and very good value – much better value than local chickens and you get a lot more meat for your money.  You just have to hope you’re not squeamish…

He's looking at me funny...

He's looking at me funny...

And now to Roasting using Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall’s guidance on temps and cooking times…

For the stock:

Saw off the wing tips, feet, head and neck.  Discard head and feet.  Strip the skin off the neck.  Throw the neck and wings into a pot with a clutch of celery, carrot, a quartered onion, a few whole black peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves.  Fry lightly to get some colour on the meat and veg to improve flavour and then cover in water. Bring to boil and simmer gently whilst your duck is roasting.

For the roast:

Pre-heat oven to 200/220°C

Wash bird inside and out, drain and pat dry.

Using a skewer or steak knife poke holes in the skin so that the fat can drain out. You don’t want to skewer the flesh as then the juice will drain, so I usually do this by pinching the skin between thumb and finger and skewering through. Do this a lot as you really want as much fat as poss to pour out.

Pull the legs away from the body so that the heat can circulate properly otherwise you can end up overdoing the breast in order to cook the meat round the legs.

Put the bird breast up in a roasting pan, and throw the skin from the neck and any of the other fat you took out of the bird in with it, so it can render down and produce you even more fat future potato delight.

Slam in the oven and cook for 20 mins to get the fat flowing.  At 20 mins baste the bird and also start harvesting the fat. Turn down to 180°C for the rest of the cooking.  These 2kg ducks take another 40-45 mins to do, and I baste and harvest the fat another 30 mins through the cooking time.  (If you aren’t going to make roast tatoes then throw half a bulb of garlic in the pan when you turn the heat down to add to the gravy). You could cook it for another 10-15 mins if you like your duck really well done, but I find my timings keep the breast super juicy and just on the cusp of pinkness.

After a total of about an hour’s cooking test the bird to see if it’s done. Put your knife/skewer into the meat low down where the leg meets the body of the bird as this tends to be where the meat takes longest to cook. If it’s just about clear then it’s done. Take the bird out to rest (try and pour out the juices that collect in the cavity for the gravy rather than mixing it in with the fat in the pan). Rest it uncovered on a warm plate in a warm place (if you cover it the skin will lose it’s crisp) whilst making the gravy.

roast duck caustic candy

Gravy:

Pour away all the fat from the roasting pan and then add back the duck juices from the cavity. Use this to loosen all the yummy dark bits off the bottom of the pan.  Chuck in a bit of cornflour to bring it together and then gradually add some of the stock you’ve been boiling. Transfer to a saucepan to cook. Mush up the roasted garlic and add that to the gravy, and before you add too much stock you can always splosh in some vino/sherry for a bit of extra flavour but make sure you boil off the alcohol. Use more stock to get the consistency you like, season and Bob’s your uncle.

Roast Tatties:

Apart from goose fat, I think duck fat is the best to use for roast potatoes.  Boil your potatoes til they are almost done in well-salted water and then rough them over a little with a fork.  Heat up a good amount of duck fat in a pan and then put your potatoes in, season with a generous amount of salt and pepper, and you can even throw some rosemary or thyme, and half a bulb of garlic. Turn the potatoes over coating all sides in the oil and season again. Put in the oven about 30 mins before your duck is done.  Turn your potatoes every so often, and if by the time you take the duck out they are not satisfactorily crispy then whack the heat up to 200°C for a final 10min sizzle whilst you make the gravy and the meat rests.

To Serve:

For my greens, I’ve enjoyed using white flowering cabbage recently as it provides great contrast to the rich duck and potatoes, and takes just a minute to blanch.

The 2 halves of the breast are enough to feed two people, keeping the legs and redder meat for the next meal, and it means that you have a good amount of room to stuff down a tonne of roast potatoes which are bloody amazing if you get them right.

Cranberry sauce really does good things to duck, so it’s worth grabbing some of that.

Note: I have confit’ed the legs of these ducks once, but they really aren’t big enough to warrant the hassle.

Part 2 – the leftover meat

Part 3 – duck stock and soup

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