Emergency Room Roast Duck

November  5, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I should start off by saying that this will be a longish introduction. To read only about the recipe notes, skip to the bottom part. So, she says, indicating that you should get comfortable, the story goes something like this...... There is a list of cooking challenges that I keep on my fridge - my white whales. Paella, soufflé, you get the idea. Parenthetically, if you want to read a funny story about when I battled the giant octopus (and lost), you can find it about 3/4 of the way down the hotline question about foods that polarize: http://www.food52.com/foodpickle... Anyway, getting back to it. Whole roasted duck has been on that list for a while. I've always been a little intimidated by the gaminess and, well, the price. Not wanting to completely balls up a bird that can cost upwards of $40. About two weeks ago I decided that the time had come to cross that item of the list. I consulted my step-mom who had mentioned this awesome green tea duck she had made about a year and a half ago and I sucked it up and went to Whole Foods and got a duck. And I brined that bird for the better part of three days. Oh and the brine smelled sooooo good. I mean, if there are angels and they are Asian, this is what an Asian angel would smell like. I wanted to take a bath in this stuff. So for three days I am nursing this brine, loving it, occasionally turning the duck over in the pot so that all parts are exposed to the liquid. Then, when the time was right, I reverently removed it from the liquid, brushed off the star anise and the green tea and put it in the oven. I made my mom's Special Rice (I'll post another day). I made edamame. I opened a bottle of wine. My husband was going to remember why I am the best wife in the whole world. The kids were winding down and all was on track to get them in bed before we enjoyed a romantic dinner (which in our house qualifies as a meal, eaten when hot, together). Jameson (the elder son) was upstairs getting his pajamas on. I am basting every ten minutes with lovely duck fat. Jameson starts crying, which I should say is not entirely unusual behavior for a four year old who doesn't want to go to bed. "Oh hush up and get your jammies on," I snap irritably up the stairs while I return to cooing over my bird. The crying continues. I sigh. My husband sighs. Connor (the younger son) starts intoning "bottle bottle bottle bottle!" which indicates incipient melt-down. I sigh again. I bargain with my husband: I'll fix the bottle, you go fix the four year old. The bottle goes in the microwave; the husband goes up the stairs. The duck, a glistening glorious brown crispy version of heaven comes out of the oven smelling exotic and exciting. I place it lovingly on the stovetop to rest. The husband immediately yells down the stairs for a towel. Something about gaping head wounds. Turns out that Jameson, while hiding in our bedroom trying to avoid the inevitable onset of bedtime, stood up too fast and split his head open on our armoire door. Since I took Jameson to the hospital the LAST time he had to get stitches in his noggin, I inform my husband that it is his turn. The whirlwind departs in a flurry of bloody towels and sniffles and a squalling Connor who is quite alarmed by all the commotion. I put Connor to bed. The rice has scorched on the stove. The duck has "rested" into a coma. Quiet descended on the house and I look forlornly at my duck. Shrugging, I carved that sucker up and ate a breast all by myself. Delicious. Wine wasn't bad either. Decided it was THAT kind of night and took a second glass into the living room to keep me company while I watched an episode of The Walking Dead. ****** OK, recipe notes. There are two versions of this. The first is the way I did it and comes, according to my step-mom, from "some Asian Fusion cookbook I seem to have misplaced." Apologies for the suspicious provenance. The second was adapted, by my step-mom, from the first when she didn't have the time to brine for the 2-3 days needed. Even the 'short' version will need 24 hours to sit, so plan accordingly. —Niknud

What You'll Need
  • Long Version
  • 1 4-5 lb Pekin duck
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup sliced ginger
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and slightly smashed
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons star anise pods, slightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 4 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup green tea leaves
  • 8 cups cold water
  • Short Version
  • 1 4-5 lb Pekin Duck, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons anise pods, slightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup green tea leaves
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  1. Long Version
  2. Put all the ingredients except for the duck and the cold water into a large pot (big enough to hold the duck) and warm on the stove, stirring until the salt dissolves. Add the cold water and stir. Add the duck and place, covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the duck from the brine and remove all the bits of stuff (the green tea will char and taste bad if it's still on the bird). Cook until the internal temperature is 170, basting every 10 minutes or so with the accumulated duck fat. At altitude the cook time was about 1.5 hours but my step-mom says hers was done in about 50 minutes at sea level
  4. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
  1. Short Version
  2. In a small saute pan, heat sesame oil over medium heat until hot. Add the coriander seeds, ginger and garlic and saute for a few minutes (do not burn the garlic). Remove from heat and add in the szechuan peppercorns and star anise.
  3. In a small bowl cover the green tea leaves with the boiling water and let sit for a couple of minutes until the leaves unfurl.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the soy sauce with the tea leaves and water and the oil and spice mixture. Rub this mixture over the duck pieces and under the skin a bit. Slash the skin and rub in the slits as well.
  5. Transfer the duck and marinade to a plastic bag or bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours. Cook in a 375 degree oven until the duck reaches a temperature of 170. This should be approximately 40 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • boulangere
  • lorigoldsby
  • aargersi
  • drbabs
  • inpatskitchen

Recipe by: Niknud

Full-time working wife and mother of two small boys whose obsessive need to cook delicious food is threatening to take over what little free time I have. I grew up in a family of serious cookers but didn't learn to cook myself until I got married and got out of the military and discovered the joys of micro-graters, ethiopian food, immersion blenders and watching my husband roll around on the floor after four servings of pulled pork tamales (with real lard!) complaining that he's so full he can't feel his legs. Trying to graduate from novice cooker to ranked amateur. The days of 'the biscuit incident of aught five' as my husband refers to it are long past but I still haven't tried my hand at paella so I'm a work in progress!

18 Reviews

boulangere November 7, 2011
When the daughter was about 4 years old, she fell down in a soccer game. The son's game was up next. The daughter was running around with a friend, periodically coming by to cradle her right arm saying it hurt. Yeah, yeah, I waved her away, standing next to my sister, our family physician. The daughter kept coming back saying her arm was broken. This was the child who couldn't tolerate a degree of fever without wanting to climb out of her skin. My sister said she almost (remember that "almost") never saw fractures in kids that young because their bones are so pliable. The next day was Friday. The daughter spent the day cradling her arm saying it hurt because it was broken. I called my sister that afternoon and asked if we could, heading into the weekend, and for the price of an x-ray (and given the daughter's persistence, cheap at twice the price) rule out a break. Sure. The films were read. She had a broken arm. At least I didn't have a lovely duck sitting all alone in the meantime. She's now 22 years old, a professional dancer who has learned to live with aches and pains. Life goes on.
Niknud November 8, 2011
So it does - we all seem to have these stories. I have (she admits shamefacedly) shut both of my children's hands in the car door. Nothing broken fortunately but a little piece of my soul! :) This would be an interesting foodpickle - your biggest kitchen disasters!
lorigoldsby November 6, 2011
It is those kind of nights where we need to treat ourselves to the 2nd glass of wine (and a lovely duck breast to nibble alongside!) Glad to hear all wounds are healing. Hope your next romantic evening is less remarkable!
Niknud November 7, 2011
Yah, I think we'll go to the movies next time..... :)
boulangere November 6, 2011
Lovely new way to handle a duck. Glad the little one is ok. Love your story!
Niknud November 7, 2011
Thanks! It was a long story but seemed hilarious after all the trouble I went to trying to cross
Whole Roasted Duck of my list!
aargersi November 6, 2011
That is a beautiful duck! Glad the kid's OK ... glad you took on the duck. I will try this on my next one!!
Niknud November 6, 2011
Good luck! Like I said, this is the only time I've made duck so I don't really have anything to compare it with, but it was awfully good!
drbabs November 6, 2011
I knew when I saw the title that this had to be good. I'm glad everyone is OK. Hmmmm....dinner with a glass or two of wine in a quiet house. Sounds pretty romantic to me!
Niknud November 6, 2011
Hahaha! It's sadly true that there WAS something nice about having a quiet evening! Does that make me awful? :)
inpatskitchen November 6, 2011
Love this duck...and I can certainly relate to the emergency room story!! So happy your son is fine
Niknud November 6, 2011
Thanks, ipk! I think all parent's acknowledge it's not if you go to the ER, it's when (and how many times)....
mrslarkin November 5, 2011
OK, the slacker mom in me is thinking "Jeebus! The poor duck!" But seriously glad #1 son and his noggin are okay. Them leftovers you got there would make some awesome Asian-inspired tacos. A warm tortilla, a little shmear of hoisin, a little scallion. Yum.
Niknud November 5, 2011
Yah, the slacker mom in me was seriously bummed too! The poor duck! Or maybe it's just that I've gotten used to emergency room visits what with the two rambunctious boys... Who knows? And yum, Asian-inspired tacos - wish I'd thought of that last week!
Bevi November 5, 2011
What a story! This type of emergency and The Dog Ate the Dinner seem to crop up in our lives as a rite of passage. But the duck sound heavenly, and I hope your boy is healed.
Niknud November 5, 2011
Thanks, Bevi! The boy is fine. And, as it turns out, leftover duck is almost as delicious as fresh duck - just not as romantic! :)
wssmom November 5, 2011
LOL this soooooooo sounds like my house when the kids were young!! And I love the photo of the duck, all by its lonesome on the carving board. BTW, the recipe rocks, too!
Niknud November 5, 2011
Thanks, wssmom! Yah, I actually put it on the table just to take a picture with the empty plates. It was the saddest thing I'd seen in about 20 minutes (the sadder one being Jameson with his poor noggin all bleeding).