A few weeks ago, my wife Meredith and I found ourselves equipped with a 5 pound thawed duck from Kol Foods, all ready to experiment with our delicacy. After a requisite number of Google searches, we concluded that we would stuff our bird with orange and onion and marinate it in a chipotle peach glaze.
I treated the marinating process much as I do when preparing chicken or beef. A delicious jarred marinade (thanks, Costco) submerged the duck in a gallon size zipped bag which I left in the refrigerator overnight, flipping once for even distribution.
In an oven preheated to 350 degrees, I placed our duck atop the rack of our roasting pan. Around the duck, I placed the overflow orange and onion from our cavity stuffing. I left the bird for the next hour, uncovered, having been salted, peppered and spritzed with a little cooking spray to assist in browning. (Time: 1 hr)
After an hour, which thankfully coincided with the halftime of the early NFL games, I flipped the bird (now, to breast side down), and left it for another hour. I was pleased with how the top had crisped and browned during the first hour and was looking forward to the deliciousness that would await at the end of this journey. (Total time: 2 hrs)
Even before I arrived in the kitchen, I could smell the clean, dark meat roasting. Salivating, I understood the critical task that laid ahead: I had to determine just how much longer this bird needed before I could rip into it. Using my ring finger, I determined it was still a little too soft, so I flipped the bird again (now, breast side up) and left it for the last 30 minutes: a good rule of thumb is 30 minutes per pound in a 350 degree oven.
After letting the duck rest, I snagged a little meat from the drumstick and sliced a bit from the breast. Perfectly juicy and delicious, the chipotle peach glaze brought a surprising amount of heat and sweet.
As any experienced duck enthusiast knows, the best part of the cooking process isn’t even the meat at all, but the delicious fat rendered at the bottom of the pan. De-glazed with a bit of wine or even a little water, the oily goodness should be poured into a plastic container, allowed to cool and placed in the fridge. Give it 24 hours and then the oil and water will separate, leaving a divine semi-solid known as duck fat.
Thanks to the good folks at Kol Foods for sending us the sample fowl – they have produced a healthy, lean, kosher, and eco-sensitive bird with just the right amount of fat. Duck may not be ready to replace chicken on our regular dinner menus, but it isn’t as complicated to make as you might believe. Don’t wait until you’re celebrating at a restaurant to indulge in duck. Celebrate at home, even if all that you’re celebrating is a delicious meal with good family or friends.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.