June 14, 2017
Fresh whole duck is becoming easier to find these days, and much of it comes from Ontario. There are many who are unsure of what to do with duck, and aren’t quite comfortable with the idea of roasting one—if you’re duck-curious, give it a go – the only difference, really, is that you need to poke holes in the skin before you stick it in the oven, to allow the excess layer of fat under the skin to render off. As a bonus, you get to pour those drippings off into a jar and keep them in the fridge to roast potatoes with. Duck fat is like liquid gold –it makes the most ethereal roasted potatoes. If you don't want to bother roasting a duck to get it, you can pick up a container in the meat department alongside other King Cole Duck products.
People tend to associate duck with l’orange, a fancy-pants restaurant item that was trendy in the ’60s, so if you want to tuck a halved orange in the cavity, add it along with a handful of fresh herbs. I like to add these after a bit of time in the oven, so that they don’t start flavouring the fat – but if you don’t mind, go ahead and tuck it all in right off the bat. And if you want to roast some veg – potatoes and root veggies work well, or whatever happens to be growing in your garden – toss them around in the rendered fat already in the bottom of the pan about halfway through the cooking time. And since we’re in Ontario, a wild rice pilaf would make the perfect side. And a Canada 150 Berry Cake for dessert, of course!
1 whole duck
olive or canola oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 orange, quartered (optional)
fresh rosemary, thyme and/or sage
new potatoes and carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Pat the duck dry with paper towel and place in a roasting pan. Poke through the skin-without going into the meat-with a bamboo skewer or the tip of a knife in several places. (Do this by pulling up on the skin and poking it through as if you were threading fabric - these holes allow the excess fat under a duck's skin to render off in the oven.) Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you like, tuck the orange and herbs into the cavity – otherwise wait for halfway through the roasting time, after you’ve poured off some of the fat for later use - this way the fat will remain unflavoured.
Roast the duck for 30 minutes, then remove the duck from the oven and pour most of the fat from the pan into a jar (store in the fridge for up to a month). Stuff the orange and herbs into the cavity, add diced potatoes and 1-inch chunks of carrot to the pan if you like, reduce the heat to 350˚F and return to the oven to roast for 1 1/2-2 hours, until the legs wiggle in their sockets and a meat thermometer reads at least 175˚F. Let the duck rest 15 minutes before carving. Serves 4.
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