Our First Roast Duck

Today we ate duck for the first time. I am no chef, or even close to a decent cook in any capacity, so I deferred to the expertise of one Jamie Oliver. I typed in “Duck Recipes” into The Google and up popped a list of delicious sounding dishes from JamieOliver.com and I chose:

Easy Christmas roast duck with crispy potatoes and port gravy

It’s not Christmas, but why should flavorful food be limited to December 25th? That’s like saying you can’t eat steak for breakfast or pancakes for dinner. Preposterous!

So now that I have shown how unsophisticated I truly am, let me tell you how this went. I’m not going to go over every detail of the recipe as there is a handy link above.

The Method

I said in my previous post that we would be eating duck last night, but this recipe called for the duck to be rubbed down inside and out with a spice and orange zest mix and then set in the fridge to absorb the flavors for a few hours or overnight. I wanted this to go well, so I elected to leave it overnight.

Full disclosure: we did not have any of the fresh spices called for in the recipe aside from the cinnamon sticks and garlic cloves. Everything else we used jarred spices for. We did not have any port either. It still turned out great and I can’t wait to do it over with port and fresh spices!

Being the inexperienced cook that I am, I was surprised to read that for this recipe I would need to place the duck in the oven, directly onto the middle rack. A roasting pan would be placed below it on the bottom shelf to catch the fat drippings.
In that pan you place cut up onion, carrots, celery, ginger, fresh grated cinnamon, the chopped neck and giblets from the duck. These ingredients will all make up the gravy.

After about an hour the roasting pan is swapped out for a fresh pan with parboiled potatoes. These will stay in until the duck is done, in an hour. By then, your gravy is also done.

The Results

The potatoes turned out tasty, however, they were boiled a little too long before being put in the oven which left them too soft. One thing I am sure of is that duck fat is superior to any other oil I have used for roasting potatoes. We can’t wait to try our roasted rosemary potato, Brussels sprout, carrot and parsnip dish under a duck!

The duck meat is much darker than what you get from your conventional broiler chicken, and tastes much better. It was tender, but far from mushy like you expect from grocery store poultry. But my favorite part, by far, was the crispy and succulent skin. Maybe I’m overselling this, but I had a moment of food euphoria as I was chewing my first strip of skin. I was hit by a wave of pleasure. This is not something I can recall ever happening to me at the dinner table before. I have had some great food, but nothing that hit my senses in a way that made all of the conversation at the table fade away for a moment.

The kids loved the duck, even knowing it was one of ours. Our 2-year-old became very upset whenever she ran out of potatoes or duck meat, urgently pointing at the center of the table demanding more “Yum Yum!”. Until we gave her more, of course. We even had to pull her off the table to keep her from the gravy pot!

So overall, I’d say duck is a winning dish in our house. I can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow.

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