I nearly changed the title Elizabeth gave to this post, but I realize ‘Roasted Duck with no Adornments’ is very accurate because roasted duck needs no adornments. So perhaps I should instead write, roasted duck is its own adornment.
This is another one I gotta send up to my boy Alton Brown, who premiered ‘Twas the Night Before Good Eats this past Holiday season, complete with a roast duck preparation. Sadly, I had to wait to try my hand at this; I had taken my first stab at duck roasting a scant few weeks before the episode aired and sorry, but that’s just too much duck. So I waited and bided my time trifling with tapas and pizzas until the time was right.
Three months hence, I decided to ask this particular lady to dance again. When faced with a daunting ingredient or preparation, take your time, pick a weekend and choose the date and time you march into battle. Pick a quiet weekend where you won’t mind if something goes wrong and everyone will be happy with pizza. Alton recommends dry-aging the birdie before roasting., I did not, but I get it. I dry-aged a standing beef rib roast once, did it no end of good. However, I think that the duck is luscious enough to survive the hot box without the 4 days of fridge-aging (although I will try it someday).
The prep is simple. Buy a duck and spatchcock it. Shortly, cut out the spine and remove the sternum, Grey’s Anatomy-style, then cut two slits in the leg skin/fat and insert the end of the drumsticks therein. You have one flat bird, ready for the high heat. I salted the bejeezus out of any exposed skin and let it sit for a few hours in the fridge until roasting time. Then, give it hell at 350 F for 60-75 minutes until you get to 170-180 F or so. The salty, savory skin will be your reward. Truly, the only adornment you need. If you’re feeding more than 4, you will need more than one 4 lb duck or some kind of super-duck. Elizabeth and I managed to polish an entire duck off in one dinner, but I was the primary duck consumer that night, I won’t lie. The point is don’t be afraid of unorthodox ingredients or preparations. I’ve seen that Good Eats about corning your own beef brisket a bunch of times now, and rather than live vicariously through the TV Food Jockeys, eventually I will try my own hand at it. Inspiration is fine, but it’s all too easy for that to change over to cooking by proxy. Frankly, I don’t think the networks care either way, but there is a great feeling when you watch those shows and say, ‘Hey, I can do that!’ (and an even better feeling when you can watch and say ‘Hey, they’re doing that wrong!’).
Until next time, cook on!