Author Notes: This is a terrific recipe that makes use of a common appliance’s best qualities without using it to completely cook the dish. This is a bit more trouble than a garden variety slow cooker recipe, but vastly less trouble and to-do than any other duck recipe that makes the skin as crispy as this one’s (those other troublesome recipes can involve anything from parboiling the duck whole and refrigerating for days before roasting or standing over the duck with a hair dryer to open the duck’s pores—madness when you can just whap the whole thing into your slow cooker and get the same effect!).
fresh or completely thawed frozen duck, quartered (big pieces of hanging fat removed, if any)
ribs celery, sliced
medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced
a large white or spanish onion, peeled and sliced
sprigs of fresh thyme, on the branch
juice of half a lemon
cup good red wine
kosher salt & ground black pepper
- Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes; don’t add any fat. Put the duck in the heated saute pan and brown it well, skin side first, then flesh side, probably about 15 minutes total. Lift the duck quarters out of the fat and discard fat. Pepper and liberally salt the duck quarters on both sides.
- Mix celery, carrots, onion, shallots, thyme, cloves, peppercorns and red wine in the slow cooker. Place duck quarters on top of this mixture, skin side up. Pour lemon juice over duck pieces and sprinkle on a bit more kosher salt.
- Slow cook the duck on low for 8 to 10 hours. Drain liquid from the slow cooker (this can be strained, chilled and saved in a bowl—it will separate into perfect duck fat on the top and lovely duck gelee on the bottom). (Note: After Step Three, duck can be refrigerated, covered, up to two days, before proceeding with Step Four).
- Broil duck pieces, skin side up only, until skin is completely crisp, about 3-5 minutes