Thursday, April 1, 2010

Roast Duckling with Apricot Balsamic Glaze

I was incredibly lucky to find free-range kosher duckling to serve at my Passover seder. Believe it or not, I found it at a nearby supermarket that specializes in kosher foods. I jumped at the chance to cook duck, and ditched my much more basic chicken plan. If you are looking to buy duck, rest assured that as long as you don't need it to be kosher, you should be able to find it quite readily. And due to some helpful USDA restrictions, ducks cannot be raised using antibiotics or hormones, so you're safe from those regardless.

I bought four duckings, each about 4.5 lbs., for a crowd of 18 people, and we were left with a couple of scraps too small to use for a single leftover dinner. So, the perfect amount (except that I wouldn't have minded some leftovers).

Although it was a great hit, I would have liked the fat to render a bit more. So, that's something to work on next time. Nevertheless, the meat was delicious, tender, and flavorful, and the accompanying glaze was quite tasty.

Roasting duck is certainly not as easy as roasting chicken, but it's also not as hard as most people think. The trick is to score or pierce the skin all over and rotate the duck every so often so that the thick fat layer under the skin renders. If I had cooked the duck at a lower temperature for a longer time, I think I could have achieved that completely and had crispier skin to boot.

So, although this recipe is not perfect, it will still make everyone at the table happy:

Roast Duckling with Apricot Balsamic Glaze
4-6 lb. free-range duckling
salt and pepper
Apricot Balsamic Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350F (perhaps next time I'd try 300F). Cut away any excess hanging skin around the neck and back side. Rinse the duck in cold water, inside and out, and then pat dry with towels.

Pierce or score the skin all over. Season the duck with salt and pepper, inside and out. Place the duck, breast-side up, on a rack in a roasting pan, and then put in the oven.

Turn the duck every 30-45 minutes. When the internal temperature of the duck (at the deepest part of the breast) reaches 165F on a meat thermometer, the duck in done (roughly 3 hours). If you like your duck a little more cooked through, you can roast it to 180F.

Increase the oven temperature to 400F. Glaze the duck and return to the oven for up to five minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow the duck to rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving. Make sure to reserve the fat in the bottom of the pan - it's a chef's gold!

One duck serves 4-5 people.

Apricot Balsamic Glaze
3 9 oz. jars apricot jam
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsps. honey

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan (if the jam is very chunky, first puree all ingredients together in a blender). Bring the mixture to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook down (if necessary) until thick and syrupy.

This recipe makes enough to glaze several ducks and pass as a condiment, as well. Goes well with chicken, turkey or pork also.

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