This Thanksgiving I wanted to do something a little different. I was in my local market and saw a small bird in the area with the turkeys. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bird was a delicious 7 pound duck. Having never roasted a whole duck before, I was excited for the opportunity. So, here is how I did it.
First, I let the bird sit out overnight to come to room temperature. When I took it out of the bag, I patted it dry and covered it. The next morning, I made a glaze to baste the duck with every 20 minutes. Here is a quick recipe for the glaze:
1/2 cup of orange blossom honey (or any type)
2 tbsp of apricot jam
2 tbsp of plum preserve
2 slices of fresh ginger
2 cups of water
1 cup of clean, fresh cranberries
Combine the honey, water and cranberries in a small saucier and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, continuing until the cranberries are very soft. Add the ginger slices, plum preserve and jam during the simmer. Whisk them evenly through glaze while the cranberries are still fairly solid. Reduce the glaze for about 15-20 minutes.
While the glaze is reducing, prep the duck. Again, pat the bird dry to ensure a crisp skin. Because duck has so much fat over the breast, you must prick the skin so that the fat can run out. (Be sure not to penetrate the meat or it will dry out.) season the skin with a little salt, but no pepper. quarter an onion and peal two cloves of garlic and stuff them into the bird. Also, I added a few slices of ginger into the cavity as well. You can omit this if you like, but it adds a nice flavor to the meat. Glaze your bird with the delicious glaze and place in the oven.
Place the bird on a rack in your roasting pan. Make sure the duck is elevated so you can retain the fat drippings! Roast the duck for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Baste the duck again, and back down the heat to 350 degrees. At 350 degrees, baste every 20 minutes. Over the next two hours, you should turn the bird twice, once from breast up, to breast down, and then again to breast up for the finish. If you have a meat thermometer, which you SHOULD, the minimum internal temperature should be 165 degrees. If not, you should be pretty safe with 30 minutes at 400 degrees and two-two and a half hours at 350 degrees. When done, take the bird out and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
IMPORTANT- in the bottom of the roasting pan, there will be delicious duck fat, even up to a cup and a half. This is GREAT stuff. Use it for roasting potatoes, brussel sprouts, ect.