Saturday, October 13, 2012

Roast Duck - The Series (Duck Stock)

The neck, feet, wing tips and carcass left over from the roast duck made a wonderfully rich stock.  That one bird produced multiple meals.
Duck Stock
In a large stock pot, I sauteed the duck parts, 1 stalk of diced celery and 2 minced shallots in a bit of duck fat.   Once the duck parts started to brown, I filled the pot up with water and turned the heat up to high.  Once everything came to a boil, I turned the heat down to a low simmer.  Leaving the pot cover slightly propped up, I let the duck stock simmer away for at least 5 hours.  I always wait until the stock is done simmering to add salt.  You don't want too much of the liquids to simmer away and end up with salt water.  Sure, you can add more water, but in diluting the salt you would be diluting away all the other flavors as well.  Better to taste and salt at the end.
I enjoyed duck egg noodle soup the next day and froze the rest in 2 cup portions. I now have duck stock to flavor my risotto, mashed potatoes, duck shepherd's pie etc.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Roast Duck - The Series (Crispy Skin Roast Duck with New Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts)

I picked up a young duckling from the frozen meats section at 99 Ranch.  Yes, that's right.  Roast duck.  It's an entire series.  It's so much more than just roast duck.  I rendered and saved the duck fat.  Duck fat brussel sprouts and new potatoes.  Duck stock.  Duck spring rolls.  I got my money's worth out of that one bird.  The skin was crispy.  The meat was juicy and succulent.  I was glad I didn't over complicate the seasoning.  The flavor of the duck really stood on its own.
Crispy Skin Roast Duck w/ brussel sprouts and assorted new potatoes

First, let's start with the duck itself.  I bought a 19" roasting pan and was excited to use it.  Unfortunately, it was too big for my freakishly small oven.  So I positioned the roasting rack on top of a baking sheet instead.

Crispy Skin Roast Duck with new potatoes and brussel sprouts
1 1/2 lb whole duck 
*new potatoes
*brussel sprouts (about the diameter of a quarter or cut in half if larger)

After I tore off the plastic packing that the duck came in, I discovered that I literally had a whole duck.  
With the feet and head still attached.
For those who feel uncomfortable with the fact that the animals we eat once came with a head, I'll spare you the pictures of the dismemberment and beheading.
I clumsily cut off the wing tips, feet, neck and head.  I saved them for the duck stock, which I'll get to in another installment of "Roast Duck - The Series." I also set aside the liver, heart and kidneys that were inside the cavity of the duck.  I later sauteed the offal with some salt, pepper, shallots, duck fat and balsamic vinegar for a little snack while the duck was roasting.
I scrubbed the duck all over with salt and rinsed it all off.  I then thoroughly dried off the duck with paper towels.  I preheated the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.  Like I said, my oven is freakishly tiny.  So if you have a normal sized oven, preheat to 325 Fahrenheit.
Part 1 of the secret to getting crispy skin and juicy meat is to carefully make little slits all over the skin of the duck without piercing the flesh.
Since I was going to render the duck fat, I simply seasoned the duck by sprinkling salt and pepper inside the cavity of the duck.  With butcher's twine, I tied the legs together and the wings close to the body.
I popped the duck into my tiny, preheated oven.  Part 2 of the secret to crispy skin and juicy, succulent meat is to roast the bird in low temperatures for 3 1/2 hours, flipping the bird over every 20 minutes.
Like I said, I was rendering the duck fat and roasting the bird in a baking sheet.  Every time I took the bird out of the oven to flip it over, I also used a baster to remove the duck fat and strain into a ceramic bowl.
*With 1 hour of roasting time left, I threw some new potatoes into the baking sheet underneath the roasting rack and rolled them around to cover them with the drippings.  I rolled them around some more each time I flipped the duck over.
*With 40 minutes of roasting time left, I threw the brussel sprouts in with the potatoes.  I turned them over during the final duck flip.
Part 3 of the secret is to let the bird rest 15 minutes before carving.