It was fabulous... and it really had no other choice than to be fabulous, since it took a total of 5 hours to prep and cook. I've never gotten more intimate with any other bird in the history of my life.
Duck is quite a treat and I eat it often, mostly the magrets (breast). A whole duck is a completely different ordeal. When roasting, there are issues to beware of, such as not undercooking it and ending up with tough meat. There will be no rare or medium rare cuts.. it needs to be fall-off-the-bone juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
To obtain that regal status, you need to put in a bit of work and technique. Thankfully, the HungryMouse gave me the perfect method.. slow and low. So yes, I did manage to get this done.
1 duck will feed about 6 people.
So here she is in all her splendor, cavity exposed and all. I had to cut off the neck and head, which I didn't photograph because it made me sad. I placed the neck inside the cavity along with a few Javanese Long Pepper Berries and one orange sliced in half. You can fit a lot of things in there! The orange is to keep it moist on the inside. You may notice I have my duck on a small pan inside a large pan. What I would have liked to do is have a rack that fit inside that larger oven pan.. but I don't have one, so that is my make-shift rack. The reason is that, to obtain crispy skin, you don't want your bird bathing in its fat. Ducks sweat off a lot of fat.. and you want to be able to collect it and use it to cook your turnips in later on (or potatoes or anything because duck fat makes anything delicious).
So after rinsing and patting it dry, I scored my duck in a criss-cross pattern all over, front and back. There is one part where I may have scored too deeply. You don't want to score all the way to the flesh. Then I rubbed some coarse sea salt all over it. I closed her little legs together with some string so the orange would steam the inside during cooking.
Next is the cooking part. This baby cooks for 4 hours at 300°F 150°C. As I said, slow and low.. but that doesn't mean you sit back and relax for 4 hours. You need to flip that bird every hour. start breast side up for 1 hour. The photo above is after 1 hour. I then flipped it.
Here you have it after the 2nd hour, breast side down. Now you can remove that fat that has collected at the bottom of the pan. Don't throw it out! You'll use it later on. It's culinary gold.
Flip it breast side up for the 3rd hour.
Here she is after the 3rd hour. Keep collecting that fat and make sure the duck is not bathing in it.
flip it breast side down for the 4th hour. During this time, make the glaze. I juiced 1 orange, grated about 1 inch off a ginger knob, added 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 2 Tbsp fig chutney. Many glazes use honey and soy sauce as well.. I just couldn't give up my honey for a bird.. I didn't have the heart to do it.
Here she is again after the 4th hour. Flip it over again and turn up the heat to 400°F 200°C.
How do you flip it? Well, try not to burn your hands...
Blast on high for 10 minutes, then remove and apply the glaze all over and on the inside too if you can reach. You see that bowl in the background? That's the duck fat I was using to cook my rutabagas and golden ball turnips in.
Cook it for another 5-7 minutes with the glaze on, then remove, let it rest, carve, and serve.
This was a real treat. You couldn't taste the orange ginger glaze so much.. maybe because I didn't eat the skin, but the meat was perfect. I took a leg, which is always my favorite part of a bird. The meat was tender and juicy and fall-off-the-bone... just the way I like it.
I paired it with some lambs lettuce and oh my those roots!
I sliced up about 1kg or 2 lbs worth of golden ball turnips and rutabagas on my mandolin. Working in batches, I sautéed the slices in some of the duck fat and a pinch of fleur de sel. I deglazed with a little of my orange-ginger glaze and that was it.
Perfection, just as I had planned...