Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roasting a duck in 4 hours - Quack on a Rack

"Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time." Jules Renard

I've been thinking about experimenting with a home-made duck confit but I don't know where to buy duck thighs. The aunties and uncles at a few wet markets I went to said it's not worthwhile for them to sell only duck thighs. So this morning, I decided to buy the whole duck and to try to roast the entire bird. I've roasted chickens so many times now but am curious how it would be like with a duck.

In this roasting process, I will aim to collect as much duck fat as possible. They keep for months and are good for using on mashed potatoes instead of butter. I could also keep them for my duck confit if I can get my hands on some duck thighs.

After a few searches on the web, I aggregated the knowledge and did it my own way as follows:
After cleaning duck by rubbing salt all over, with a sharp knife, I make a slit on the skin and fat,
Criss-cross the slits
It's easier than it looks. Just be sure to use a sharp knife and run it along smoothly. I also prick holes to allow for more fats to flow out. The more fat you can collect, the better.
I give it another round of salt as a marinade. I've also trussed the leg the same way I trussed the chicken. I set it up on a wire gauze with a tray below lined with foil to catch the melting duck fat. Popped it in the oven at 150C.
After an hour, I turn it over and retain temp at 150C.
After 2 hours, I find a dead alien shoving his fist at me. Am wondering how the meat can be tender since it's starting to dry out and I still have 2 hours to go. I decided to drop temp to 140C.
After three hours, I yank it out to find it's looking like serious business - and it smells marvellous! As I turn it over again and pop it back in for the 4th hour, I prepare the glaze. 

No recipe, just my own concoction - honey, fresh orange juice, Japanese rice wine, light soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. I left the orange pulp in there. Place these on a saucepan and simmer (low heat, small bubbles) until the mixture is syrupy. Set aside and wait for the lame duck.
At the 4th hour, I remove the bird and brush my syrup all over and put it back in the oven. So far, so good, and then... I made one costly mistake... 
In the last 5 minutes, I put it on high grill to achieve a crispy effect on the skin. Unfortunately, I also put the bird on the highest level and it burns right before my eyes after only 2 minutes!
I yank the poor bird out quickly and rescue it from further carcenogia. What a pity 'cos I can see the skin is nicely crisped! 4 hours of effort gone to waste from 2 minutes of negligence! Looks like I have to try this again!

Feedback from family: My mom loves it - she said a few times it's really good! My son said it tastes like BBQ pork. I need to do it one more time and make time to plate and present it. 
The duck fat I collected. Now, I'm in a serious relationship with duck fat. It's complicated.
I decided to use the duck fat to make carrot confit for my caregroup tonight - sprinkle with salt and pepper, roast till soft, blend and make into a dip. Add za'atar and ground peanut.
Many people said they couldn't believe I didn't add sugar.
So, it looks like I will definitely have to give this another go but overall, I was happy with this adventure.


  1. Sounds like time consuming work but your delicious photos may tempt me to have a go, now that I have 'upgraded' to a bigger oven which can accommodate a duck.

    Have a great holiday in Europe!

  2. Hello there! Actually, you only need a minute at every hour to turn the duck. It's a recipe that requires you to stay at home but you can pretty much attend to other things and leave the bird in the oven to cook. Congrats on your bigger oven - post me a pix!

  3. I think you can get your duck supplier at your local wet market to keep the duck fat that they trim off when they cut ducks into parts. Some years ago when I wanted to get duck fat for confit, I went this route and managed to gather quite a fair bit.

    Alternatively, Culina has goose fat at 14 dollars a can (350g if I remember correctly).

  4. Thanks for the tip, Calvin. Keep them coming!


  5. Dear EVC,

    Your pictures help a ton! Very easy to follow. My duck turned out to be prefect!!

    Here is a picture of my duck:

    Thanks a million! Your salt-crusted fish is what I am going to try next.

    All the best,

    1. Hi Eva, I can't view your photo but am glad you tried it and elated to hear it's perfect! Wish I could see your photo - can you post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/extravirginchef?


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