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Cooking Duck


Susan in FL
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We don't use this hairdryer method every time we cook a whole duck, but we have done it a few times before. I can't help but laugh every time we do. I remember the first time I blow-dried a duck before roasting it. My husband didn't know I was going to use this technique and he came into the house and found me doing it. It struck him quite funny.

Tonight we pricked the skin, and then boiled it for a few minutes (we save the liquid and de-grease it and freeze it, and then use it next time we pre-boil duck) and then we used the hair dryer, and then we rotisserie-cooked it on the grill, brushing on a glaze at the end.

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To what lengths have you gone to get crispy skin on a whole roasted or grilled duck, and what works the best for you? My husband is convinced that we still haven't gotten it crispy-done-to-perfection.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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" (we save the liquid and de-grease it and freeze it, and then use it next time we pre-boil duck)"

Why? Does it intensify the flavor?

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

--Nick DePaolo

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My tried-and-true method of cooking crispy-skin duck comes from Paul Bertolli's Chez Pannisse Cooking. Prick the skin of the duckling all over, steam it gently until the flesh is succulent and the fat is well rendered, brush it with a nice glaze and roast at high temperature.

I remember seeing an episode of some television show about "dream kitchens" where the subject had purchased Ken Hom's former abode in the Berkeley Hills. The absolute coolest thing about the house (to the new owner as well as myself) was the duck-drying cabinet in the kitchen. Hang the duck up and turn on the fan to circulate the air. Every kitchen should have one!

The duck-drying cabinet is featured in a book I mentioned in a previous eGullet thread about "classic" cookbooks. I'll look up the thread when I'm feeling less lazy. :smile:

Oh Yeah, KH had installed a Hobart dishwasher in his home kitchen - slide the rack into the dishwasher, crank down the hand-lever, and fifty seconds later you've got sparkling-clean dishes. Nifty!

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The recipe I use comes from an article that Amanda Hesser wrote in the Times in 2000. She adapted a technique from Greg Sonnier, chef at Gabrielle in New Orleans. I find it makes for a succulent duck and the vegetables that cook with it are heavenly.

The recipe calls for sticking thyme, garlic, carrots, turnips, beets and shallots into the cavity of the duck and then trussing. The duck is set in a large casserole and more vegetables and herbs are scattered around. Then you loosely cover with foil and place in a 500F oven for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 300F and slowly roast for 3 1/2, basting the duck every so often.

At this point I differ from the recipe, I remove the duck from the pan, and place it on a roasting rack and return it to the oven for another hour. This is the part that really crisps up the skin.

I also remove the vegetable from the dish and place in another dish and continue roasting them. Then I strain the remaining fat and freeze it for future use.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I remember seeing an episode of some television show about "dream kitchens" where the subject had purchased Ken Hom's former abode in the Berkeley Hills. The absolute coolest thing about the house (to the new owner as well as myself) was the duck-drying cabinet in the kitchen. Hang the duck up and turn on the fan to circulate the air. Every kitchen should have one!

The duck-drying cabinet is featured in a book I mentioned in a previous eGullet thread about "classic" cookbooks. I'll look up the thread when I'm feeling less lazy.  :smile:

Oh Yeah, KH had installed a Hobart dishwasher in his home kitchen - slide the rack into the dishwasher, crank down the hand-lever, and fifty seconds later you've got sparkling-clean dishes. Nifty!

I saw that episode also. I also thought the duck drying cabinet was nifty, however I have three of the Excalibur dehydrators like these, and I have modified one of the racks so it will hold the weight of a duck. I just put the one rack on one of the lower levels and turn it on. The fan and heat will dry the duck quite well. If the dehydrators are in use I use a heat gun. I bought one years ago for some project but it has come in handy many times over the years. It has a flat base so it will sit steady and if I hang the duck over a drip pan on a cord and spin it until the cord is twisted, it will keep turning one way then the other for several minutes.

I have a Hobart dishwasher - mine does a cycle in 90 seconds and heats the water so it will sterilize jars for canning, the main reason I got it, but it really helped when I applied to get my kitchen certified for commercial use. It was worth every penny. I love it!

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I have a Hobart dishwasher - mine does a cycle in 90 seconds and heats the water so it will sterilize jars for canning, the main reason I got it, but it really helped when I applied to get my kitchen certified for commercial use.  It was worth every penny.  I love it!

wait, when you guys say 'worth every penny,' what are we talking about here? $1000? $2000? more? i mean, if you don't mind saying.

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I just normally buy my ducks with skin already crispy. $12 each. Quick and easy :)

I used to use the prick/steam/dry/glaze/roast method. Very time consuming and never as good as store bought duck.

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I have to say, Susan, that the photo of you blow-drying a duck amuses me on many levels. Not the least of which is the fact that you thought to take such a photo. Thanks for posting it. :laugh:

I thought the best way to get a crisp-skinned duck was to deep-fat fry it. That's how I remember doing them in culinary school, anyway. Not everybody has access to a big vat of hot oil on notice, though. (I don't anymore, which is one reason why I rarely get that crisp-skinned duck.)

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" (we save the liquid and de-grease it and freeze it, and then use it next time we pre-boil duck)"

Why? Does it intensify the flavor?

We think so. :smile:

I remember seeing an episode of some television show about "dream kitchens" where the subject had purchased Ken Hom's former abode in the Berkeley Hills. The absolute coolest thing about the house (to the new owner as well as myself) was the duck-drying cabinet in the kitchen. Hang the duck up and turn on the fan to circulate the air. Every kitchen should have one!

I wish ours did, and one of those dishwashers, too!

Thanks for all the ideas. I'm interested in more gentle steaming next time instead

of the boiling, to see if that makes a difference. I'm not sure a whole duck could taste any better than last night's though... It was delectable.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I have to say, Susan, that the photo of you blow-drying a duck amuses me on many levels. Not the least of which is the fact that you thought to take such a photo. Thanks for posting it. :laugh:

I thought the best way to get a crisp-skinned duck was to deep-fat fry it. That's how I remember doing them in culinary school, anyway. Not everybody  has access to a big vat of hot oil on notice, though. (I don't anymore, which is one reason why I rarely get that crisp-skinned duck.)

I'm glad to have provided some amusement. :biggrin: I'm so very easily amused, and that is actually why my husband and I thought to capture it in photos. I shot some photos of him blow-drying the duck, too, but he surely didn't want them made public. We had some hilarious fun with this.

We'll try your idea, too. Our grill has a deep-fryer and if a small duck won't fit in it, we'll split it in half and see how that works. Mmmm... maybe reason here to get a turkey deep-fryer?

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I've only cooked duck three or four times (always breasts in a pan), but I never seem to have problems if I slash the skin meticulously (I slash at about 1/8 inch intervals, with a razor, in a cross-hatch fashion), render carefully, and crank the heat blazing hot for the final crisp-up.

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I don't have any problem with breasts, either, Eunny (and boneless duck breasts are by far my favorite). It's the whole ducks and actually I'm quite pleased them, but Russ is not as pleased and is determined to find a way to get them crispier! :smile: We have duck in one form or other about every two or three weeks, so we will be trying some of the ideas in this post thanks to all of you.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Originally, Peking Duck (served in Beijing) the duck was roasted and the crispy skin was served first, sans the fowl.

Jeff Smith (I know) The Frugal Gourmet offered us this:

Peking Duck

5 lb Fresh duck or completely defrosted

1/4 tablespoon Salt

1/2 tablespoon Five Spice

1/4 tablespoon MSG (optional)

1/2 tablespoon Sugar

3 Lemon, sliced thin with rind

4 c Water

3 tablespoon Honey

3 tablespoon Dark soy sauce

3 tb Red wine vinegar OR 2/3 c Chinese rice wine

Preparation: Mix the salt, 5-Spice, MSG and sugar together and rub inside of bird with the mixture. Fold up the tail into the bird and using an upholstery needle or turkey skewers and string, close up the duck sealing all openings.

Blanch the duck in 3 qts of boiling water pouring the water over the duck about 8 times. Hang up to dry for 3-4 hours.

Combine red wine vinegar (or rice wine), water, honey, soy sauce and lemon in a pot and bring mixture to a boil. Turn heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Using a ladle, pour this mixture over the duck several times until it is completely coated. Hang duck in front of a fan for 4-5 hours or overnight sans fan.

Place duck on a greased rack and roast for 20 minutes in at 400 F. Turn oven down to 375 F and continue to roast - 25 minutes per lb. total time. This includes the first 20 minutes. (A 4 1/2 lb duck would take approx. 1 1/2 hrs.)

The food police will surely come a knocking on your door, if you hang any meat or poultry in your kitchen for more than 15 minutes today.

Personally, in favor of crisp skin, I follow the method of chicken and turkey, allowing them to air dry in the icebox for a day or two, in helping to dry the skin, before roasting.

Rubbing acidic orange or lemon juice on the fowl chicken will also help develop a criper skin, but I am not sure why.

woodburner

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I like to make duck confit, a dozen legs at a time, and keep on hand for quick meals. Stored in duck fat, they keep for a long time. I heat them fairly slowly in the oven and then broil for a few minutes at the end, nice crispy skin and really tasty meat. That reminds me, I used the last of my stash, time to make more!

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Anybody else do the bicycle pump trick? That is, stick the end of a floor pump under the skin and then pump away to make the skin separate from the fat (it's a two man - or man/boy - job). Then do the usual boiling water, baste with honey and soya etc, hang from a hook in front of a drafty kitchen window, sleep on the floor of the kitchen (so as to be able to wake up and baste every hour or so), then, after 24 hours of constant attention, roast in a very hot oven. Dead simple.

Here's the way we do it. Jeez, this has made me hungry for duck, so it's about time we do this again...

MP

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