Duck

Duck

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

A bird prized by gourmets for its rich flavour and succulence, duck can be prepared in a great variety of ways. A duck has more fat, a larger frame and less meat than a chicken of the same weight, so allow about 375–500 g raw weight per person. For a dinner party, it is pleasant (and certainly very convenient for the carver) to serve half a small duckling to each person. A good young duck has creamy skin and a plump breast, with a pliable breastbone.

To truss a duck: Truss in the same way as chicken. Shape the bird neatly with your hands, tucking the neck flap underneath. Take a piece of string and place its centre below the breastbone at the neck end. Bring the ends of the string down over the wings to cross underneath, then up to tie the legs and tail together.

To roast duck: Pull out loose fat around neck and inside body. Press the 2 little oil glands near base of tail to empty them. Wipe bird inside and out with damp paper towels. If using stuffing, spoon it loosely into the body cavity. Or, instead of stuffing, a few lemon slices or a quartered green apple, with some sliced onion and a little sage or other herbs, may be placed inside duck to flavour it. Truss bird and place it, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting tin.

Roast in the centre of a preheated moderately hot oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate and continue roasting, allowing about 25 minutes per 500 g. Very small birds will take a little less and very large ones a little more than this time. Baste with pan juices every 15 minutes and, 20 minutes before end of cooking time, prick breast all over to allow excess fat to escape and make skin crisp.

Test for doneness by inserting a fine skewer into thickest part of the thigh near the body; juices should run clear with no tinge of pink. Allow duck to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes before carving.

Make Clear Gravy or Thickened Gravy to accompany duck, if desired (see Gravy). A little orange or lemon juice may be added to gravy.

Roast duck may also be served with apple sauce or another tart sauce such as Sauce Bigarade. Young green peas, braised celery, glazed turnips and onions are classic accompaniments. A crisp green salad is a good alternative.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

Note;

  • If you have any doubt about the tenderness of a duck, it is advisable to braise it instead of roasting it. The slower, longer cooking ensures moist, tender flesh, and you can still achieve a crisp skin if you uncover the bird for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

    Duck breasts are available at many good butchers, the marylands being used for duck confit. They are excellent for easy cooking and entertaining.
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