Classic Peking duck is a demanding specialty for a home cook like me. But there are ways to closely duplicate the same crackling skin and succulent meat at home. I learned those two versions from a Chinese Cook Book, which was published back in 1979. There wasn’t anything about the apples in the recipe but my Mom and aunt always used to roast duck or goose with fresh apples or pears or some times with dried apricots and prunes, and I follow this tradition. —Kukla
• 1 4 to 5-pounds duckling
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 of teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
• 3 tablespoons soy sauce
• 5 scallions
• 3 firm Granny Smith or Fuji apples, sliced into 1-inch wedges
Rinse duck inside and out; pat dry. Cut off tail and discard; reserve giblets for another use.
Mix together all spices; sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the mixture inside duck.
Stir 1 tablespoon of soy sauce into remaining spice mixture, and then rub evenly
over the whole bird. Cut 1of the scallions and tuck inside cavity. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Place duck in a roasting pan breast side up, on a rack over 2-inches boiling water, on the top of the stove. Cover with foil and steam for 1 hour, adding hot water, if necessary. Cool duck to room temperature, so it firms up; then drain and discard juices and scallion from cavity.
Preheat oven to 350 to 375 degrees F. depending on your oven.
Place duck, breast side up, on rack in the same roasting pan and prick skin all over with a fork. Salt and pepper the apples. Tuck as many apple slices into the birds cavity and the remaining slices around the bird. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Mix remaining 2 tablespoons soy with honey and brush on the duck.
Turn oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes or until skin becomes richly browned; do not allow skin to char.
While duck is roasting, cut remaining scallions and tops in 1 1/2-inch pieces, and then in thin strips.
Serve the roasted apples, scallions and Hoisin or Plum sauce in separate bowls if you cut duck before serving, or arrange the apples around the bird on a serving platter.
Method 2 (simplified). Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Place the marinated overnight bird on a rack in a roasting pan and prick skin all over with a fork. Bake for 4 hours. Prick duck several times during roasting to drain more fat.
Brash 2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce (instead of soy sauce and honey mixture) on duck, and bake for 10 minutes or until skin becomes richly browned; do not allow skin to char.
I use the second method mostly when roasting just duck legs.