Very few things in life scare me. I’ve had circus folks throw knives at my head, been on the receiving end of barbs from both Joan Rivers and Kathy Griffin during phone interviews – and then I roasted a duck.
“Oh, but it looks so pretty in that nice white packaging! Just think of how accomplished you’ll feel once you cook it!”
Shut your mouth. You know not what you speak of.
I dreamt of this duck that night. I thought of it every time I picked Link up to take him outside for two straight weeks because the way his little ribs felt in my hands reminded me exactly of what I encountered when I touched this thing to cut into it and flip it.
I have never dealt with poultry on this level before. My chicken breasts come nicely trimmed and packaged, or already cooked. I knew I was going to have to start with gutting – but how?
This article seemed most approachable to me, so I armed myself with gloves and a steel stomach and got to work.
Didn’t need the gloves, though, because the second I saw unwrapped it and plopped it on the cutting board with sickening thud I knew I wasn’t going to be putting ANY part of my body near the inside of this thing.
What is that brown stuff?
I opted for tongs, and therefore took those metal extensions of myself and used them to pluck out every single thing I could from inside the duck. I even took a flashlight and checked my work when I was done. To me, there is no room for error when it comes to innards.
It’s blurry, I know. I only took this picture for your benefit, dear reader, so I could not stomach a redo. Deal with what you’re given.
After those shenanigans – during which I almost vomited twice – things started looking up.
I was going to use this marinade while following the cooking rules of aforementioned article, so I pre-heated my oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, then got to work on the bird.
First I washed it VERY well (inside and out) and then dried it VERY well (sorry whole roll of paper towels). Then I took my sharpest knife (my only knife, who am I kidding?) and began “scoring” the duck, which means to slice into the skin in a cross hatch pattern, without piercing the flesh.
If you’re skilled, your duck marks will look like something like this:
If you’re ME, your duck will turn out like this:
Uh, yea. I don’t see any “cross hatching,” do you?
Well, that’s because I was terrified of piercing too much, so I had a light hand. Dudes, don’t do this. Just go for it.
There’s also a TON of other things wrong with this photo: You’re supposed to tie the legs together with twine, fold the wings under, and place it on a roasting rack. After Googling, “Is floss flammable?” for about 5 minutes after I realized I had no twine, I gave up and just let it go as it was.
If you’d like to see it proper, here. If my duck looked like this, maybe I wouldn’t have hated it so much. But probably not.
What you do see in the photo of my duck, however, is one that is already seasoned. For this I combined all these ingredients in a sauce pan and then let them simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes:
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup port wine
- 1/4 cup honey
I basted the duck and prepared myself for a four hour babysitting duty. It goes as such:
- Baste duck, leave in oven for hour.
- After one hour, remove and prick the skin over the breast and the fatty deposits around the thigh area with a sharp knife, then turn it over so breast side is down, baste it some more, and roast for another hour.
- After two hours, turn duck over again and prick skin in any spots that aren’t rendering as quickly as the others, baste it some more, then roast another hour.
- After three hours prick the skin, turn breast side down, baste it again, and roast until almost all of the fat has rendered from under the skin and duck is cooked through, about another hour.
- After four hours, take it out, admire its golden nature, and thank the culinary gods this debacle is over.
But, seriously, it did look really pretty. This is mainly because I would have admired anything that didn’t come out of that oven dancing or in flames.
As if I hadn’t already been confused/scarred for life by this entire process, I then had to cut the damn thing.
I am very picky when it comes to meat, of any kind. I cut it down until the pieces look familiar/like it isn’t going to be chewy/not gross, which very often leaves me with very little.
Such is the case here.
I did watch this video, which is WONDERFUL. But I ignored a lot of it, simply because the pieces I was coming out with “looked weird.”
This poor fucking duck.
The pieces looked weird to me, mind you. Boy probably wouldn’t have cared about half of them. This, however, is all he ended up with for dinner.
And so, then, my dinner was this.