A lot of people think of duck as a difficult cut of meat to cook at home and roasting a whole duck in particular seems to cause a lot of anxiety. But in actual fact roasting duck is very simple and straight forward and given its high fat content very forgiving as far as cooking times go. Speaking of fat, this seems to be the other reason that many may steer away from duck, and sure it’s not something to indulge in every week, but if cooked correctly most of the fat seeps away during the cooking time leaving you with very moist, tender meat and lots of lovely duck fat for the next time you’re roasting potatoes.
There are a lot of different methods and techniques for roasting duck with the most popular being the twice cooked method where the duck is first steamed then roasted. In my opinion there isn’t enough difference in the end result to warrant the extra effort. This easy one step roasting method is much easier. The only things to make sure of are that your duck is at room temperature, that it’s super dry and that the skin is lightly pricked all over with a fine skewer. Follow the steps below and you’ll be guaranteed crispy skin and succulent meat every time.
Ingredients – serves 3-4
1 whole duck weighing approx 2kgs
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Five spice powder for an Asian flavour
Half and orange and some thyme or sage leaves for stuffing into the cavity of the duck
As soon as you bring your duck home from the market remove it from its packaging, pat it dry, place on a plate and leave it in the fridge uncovered. Leaving it overnight is best but if that’s not possible then for as long as you can.
Take the duck out of the fridge an hour before you need to roast it and preheat the oven to 220C. Once again pat it with paper towels to ensure it’s very dry. Cut away any large fat deposits near the cavity of the duck and with a fine skewer prick holes all over the skin, not deep enough to penetrate the flesh, just the top layer of skin. This will help the duck release it’s fat as it cooks.
Generously season the duck both inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the duck on a rack in a baking tray – it’s important to use a rack so as air circulates around the duck and also so the duck doesn’t sit in the fat it releases as it roasts. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. After this time reduce the heat to 180C and continue to cook for a further hour. Your basically cooking the duck for 45 minutes per kilo (so adjust according to the weight of your duck) with the first 30 minutes being at a higher heat. Halfway during the cooking time I like to remove the fat in the bottom of the tray. I use some of it to baste the duck and the rest I put aside for roasting potatoes (duck fat keeps well in the fridge for a number of weeks). When the duck has finished cooking remove it from the oven and allow it to rest uncovered for 15 minutes before carving.