You ever put a bunch of time into something you really should have gotten right and looks pretty decent but just misses the mark? That happened to me a couple days ago.
I was in the mood for duck, so I defrosted the one we had in the freezer, which went fine. The last time I had roast a duck (actually last time was the first time) I had bought a fresh duck and actually had to dress it myself (you know, pull out the guts etc…). This time, the duck was already dressed, frozen, with a bag of horrible l’orange sauce and the liver preserved in a bag, and the neck in there as well. Where the heart and giblets went is anyone’s guess.
I laid out the duck and proceeded to diamond score it, as shown in thehungrymouse‘s blog. This was already taking a different path than the last time I had made duck, but I liked the way his diamond cut looked so I wanted to try it.
Cutting parallel, diagonal slices through the skin and into the fat, while trying to avoid cutting the meat, gets you halfway there.
Slicing in the other direction achieves the diamond cut look.
A couple of the cuts ran a bit too deep, oops! A little salt and pepper rub and then I trussed the duck.
This is the second place where hungrymouse’s recipe was different than the way I did it last time. The recipe called for a slow even bake with a raised temperature at the end. 300 degrees for 4 hours, rotating each hour and poking drain holes to get the fat out. That seemed like an awful lot of time, but I tried it. After 2 hours, the skin came off the ends of the drumsticks, indicating to me that the bird was getting over done. I decided to make it a 3 hour recipe did a final rotation and got to work on glaze.
In hindsight, I should have heeded the peeling skin and meat from the drumsticks and stopped cooking and glazed it right there, but too late now.
I had the ingredients for the glaze as shown below.
Soy sauce, sriracha, molasses, honey, and instead of orange juice concentrate….
Bam! Guava, Passion, Orange. Yep POG! I put the ingredients together and simmered to reduce until it thickened a little bit.
About 2.5 hours in, I pulled the bird and removed the oil from the pan. I’m going to save this to cook with (not for everything but a tablespoon in with some sauteed green beans, for example, will add a nice flavor).
After that, I added a little water to the bottom of the pan, then I glazed the duck and returned it to the oven, turning up the temp to brown the skin and caramelize the glaze.
As soon as the glaze carmelized I turned down the oven to finish the rest of the dinner items and form my bread sticks (shown in a separate post).
Here’s the finished product!
The taste of the duck was excellent. The glaze came out very nice and the skin was medium crispy. Where I wasn’t happy with the duck was that for me, I found it a bit dry. Now, I admit I am VERY picky about how I do poultry and like mine barely done.
Normally, I’d rather pull my birds out too early and have to put it back in to finish (bad, I know) than to pull it out too late and have it dry. That said, trying a new recipe I tried to follow it as much as I could. For many people’s taste, this duck would have been good. I figure the pop out thermometer popping out just before I served it would generally attest to that. My parents used to tell me that American recipes generally liked the birds cooked more thoroughly and they would always cut the time for cooking by a good margin. I like my birds cooked even less than they did, though, of course, never raw (no fun getting sick!).
The pluses to hungrymouse’s technique are, imho, the beautiful diamond cut pattern on the skin, good color on the skin, and the ability to really get every bit of fat out of the duck – short of the Chinese press.
Minus, and again, perhaps only to ME, is that I found it a bit dry even after cutting the recipe short. It could have been me, it could have been the duck (duck was 6lbs for the record), who knows, but I think next time I will go back to 500 degrees, insert bird, immediately drop the temperature to 350, then roast for 15-20 minutes per pound (figuring about 2 hours total, including glaze time) and then letting it stand for 20 minutes.
I’ll try it next time I have a duck and hopefully have nice results to bring back.