Emergency Room Roast Duck

November  5, 2011
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

  • Serves 4
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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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!