This is the best duck I have made to date. It came out beautifully brown, with five-spice, honey and other brown flavours with meat juicy and flavourful. A success, which I hope to repeat every time I want to roast a whole duck. It was the first time I decided to steam the duck simply because it reduced the overall cooking time to 1 hour 45minutes, which is better than the usual 2 1/2- 3 hours it usually took me to slow roast a duck.
Here’s the recipe:
time to make 2½ hours, out of which 30 min is prep the night before
1 whole duck (4 to 5 pound)
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 slices fresh ginger (I went a bit crazy there as one can never have enough ginger)
4 cloves garlic (ditto)
1/2 bunch green onions (didn’t use these, forgot)
1 tangerine, peel cut in big strips
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
To reduce the fat and produce a crispy skin, begin by trimming the excess fat from the neck and body. Rinse the duck, inside and out, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Combine the Chinese five-spice, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the duck, inside and out. Salt and five-spice powder makes a fragrant dry marinade, which draws some of the moisture from the duck so that the spices penetrate. I left the duck rest overnight in a larder so it was a bit air-dried as well.
When ready to rock and roast, stuff the duck cavity with the aromatics: the ginger, garlic, green onions, and tangerine peel. Fold the wing tips back under the duck and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Poke the duck breast a few times, piercing the skin. Place a roasting pan on the stovetop over 2 burners and fill with 2-inches of water, turn the heat to medium. Set a V-rack insert inside the pan and lay the duck on the rack, breast-side up. Cover tightly with aluminium foil. Steam the duck for 45 minutes, checking the water level periodically. Seems obvious but when doing this, make sure you don’t get burnt by the escaping steam. Steaming the duck first melts away some of the fat and shrinks the skin.
In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and soy sauce over low heat. Bring to a boil and simmer and stir for 15 minutes until sauce thickens. The duck will be lacquered with the sweet glaze, which caramelizes during roasting, making the skin crisp and brown.
Preheat the oven to 190C. Take the foil off the duck, remove the rack with the duck and pour out the water and all the fat that has rendered out. Put the rack with the duck back inside the roasting pan. Baste the duck with the vinegar mixture, until all the skin is completely coated in the glaze. Stick the whole thing in the oven.
Roast the duck for 1 hour, basting periodically with any remaining glaze to set in a deep mahogany colour. Tent the breast with some foil if it gets too dark. I didn’t need to do this as the duck was rather large so it could take the heat. The legs will wiggle easily when it’s done or the usual test – when pierce clear juices will run – works too.
I left it stand for a few minutes while waiting for the sweet potatoes to finish roasting for a mash. Carve and serve.
The duck was served with sweet potato mash and brussel sprouts with garlic and parmesan. Oh and a decent, if not extravagant, bottle of French red.
Photos courtesy of Alec Muffett. Many thanks!