Monday, 1 February 2016

Beer-Can Roast Duck

It's duck week here at Seasonal Ontario Foods!

Just before the holidays I was able to purchase a mix of poultry from nearby Cirrus Hill Farm. I got a duck, 2 roasting chickens, 2 Guinea fowl, and a turkey. The turkey is gone, eaten at Christmas, but the rest should make an appearance as the winter progresses. Here's the duck. Not sure what kind exactly, but unless you have a muscovy duck, they should all cook similarly.

This one was fairly small, at about 3 1/2 pounds, but I expect to get three meals and an appetizer out of it for the two of us. Admittedly, one of those meals will be soup, but there will also be a generous amount of duck fat, very suitable for delectable frying; of potatoes in particular.  

The first meal is plain roasted duck; the breasts then carved off and served, and the rest set aside for later in the week. Since the skin is such an important component of a duck, I roasted on an upright roasting frame. The customary frame to use is, of course, an actual beer can, but I am dubious about the safety of the plastic films and dyes used in the labels. You can buy a roasting frame quite reasonably, and it will be well worth the money if you roast any amount or kind of fowl regularly. 

Here the bird has been dried, rubbed with salt, mounted on the frame, wing tips clipped off, and the wings tied to the bird with a bit of kitchen twine. The broth and reserved juices from the duck are about to be poured  into the pan, then it will be covered loosely in foil and into the oven it will go.

2 servings of roast breast meat
PLUS materials for other dishes
2 1/2 hours prep and cook time, plus overnight to dry off

a 1.5 to 2 kilo (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pound) duck,
   including neck and giblets
1 cup unsalted chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon salt

If your duck is frozen, then it will need to go into the fridge, set on something to catch any leaks, and thaw slowly for 2 days.

The night before you wish to cook your duck, remove it from its packaging, draining it well as you lift it out. Carefully reserve any juices that were with it, though; mixing them with the chicken stock or water and the vinegar. Keep that covered in the fridge. Keep the neck and giblets wrapped and cold as well. Pat the duck dry with a paper towel, then leave it to air-dry on a plate overnight in the fridge.

Check that your duck and its pan will fit into the oven. You will likely need to remove at least one rack, and keep the remainder very low in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub the duck with the salt, then sit it on the roasting frame, making sure it is stable and will not tip. Clip off the tips of the wings at the first joint. Reserve them with the neck piece. Tie the wings to the duck with a piece of kitchen twine. Place the frame with the duck into a deep little roasting pan; it should hold at least a quart to a quart and a half (or litres, ditto); pour the broth and duck juices half into the dish of the roasting frame and half into the larger casserole.

Cover the duck loosely with aluminum foil. You will need to seam together 2 pieces in order to get it to cover the whole bird. This is not for the benefit of the bird, but to keep your oven from being covered with a fine mist of baked-on duck fat once this is all over. If the foil is loose the duck will crisp up nicely, so do be sure to keep it loose. A little hole in the top to vent steam is a good idea.

Roast the duck for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, according to the size of the duck. Remove the foil (but keep it), and increase the heat to 425°F. (If you wish to make and serve the Chopped Duck Liver before this meal, start it now.) Leave the duck to roast for 20 to 30 minutes more, until browned nicely to your liking.

Remove the duck from the oven, and cover it loosely with the foil again. Let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before you carve it. I found the easiest way was to tip the contents of the dish of the roasting frame into the larger roasting pan while holding it with good sharp forks at stem and stern, then transporting it thus sideways to a carving plate. Be prepared that you will need to pull out the roasting rack by hand, padded with a clean (soon to be not-clean) rag. Carve off the breasts and serve them with whatever else you have planned; after dinner will be soon enough to start the prep for the next set of dishes.

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