Sunday, May 3, 2009

How to Roast a Duck

It was a lovely Sunday afternoon filled with Hedgehog Rescue Open day and outdoor activities, so naturally my children’s thoughts turned to food. Please keep in mind that most of the shops are shut in Guernsey on a Sunday. Our local butcher, bless his little cotton socks, opens until 1.00pm but it was 2.20pm by the time the kids decided that they wanted a roast.

I cook a roast for the family about every two weeks and only ever on a weekend as I simply do not have the two and a half hours of culinary love to give it during the week.

We loaded everyone into the car for the twenty minute drive to the only other butcher we thought may be open. It wasn’t; but the Checkers Store it is housed in was. I wander over to the meat fridge and was met by a very sorry sight. It was looking decidedly ‘picked over’ by the more savvy EARLY Sunday shoppers. There were three chooks (chickens, to the uninitiated) but they were a little on the small side to feed five people. My eyes wandered along the fridge looking for temptation and there it was; the last one; something I had never cooked before – duck.

I always know what to expect when I purchase the meat for a roast – screaming. Everyone claims to like a different type so there is always one disgruntled customer who informs me ‘you love them more than me’ as obviously a hunk of raw meat would display this. I always thought this type of heart stabbing emotional blackmail did not surface until the teen years – does not bode well really does it!

I was greeted with confused silence when I made the duck announcement. At least no-one could claim favouritism as NO-ONE’s favourite roast is duck.

I turned to my ridiculously large cookbook collection for inspiration and instructions on how to cook a duck as I knew enough to know that the procedure was different from cooking a chook. There are surprisingly few duck recipes in my books I have discovered and I thought I may have to wing it (boom, boom; yes, yes you can all groan now!). The crazy brunette came to the rescue once more. This is how we affectionately refer to Nigella in our home; crazy as in zany not committable. You can see by this books dog-eared appearance that it is very well used. So here we go:

Take one large pan of water and bring it to the boil; I know, I know, roasting does not usually require boiling water but bare with me….I promise.

Once the water has boiled add salt and the duck.

Please take note of the stained, unironed, faded, red polka dot tea towel obliviously added for its dramatic effect and complimentary colours!

Make sure the duck is fully submerged. After I took this photo I placed a large metal spoon on the duck and this added enough weight to fully submerge the top of the breast. Boil for 40 minutes. Now Nigella does not stipulate here whether we are talking about a simmer or a rolling boil, so being the original 0 to 100 girl I opted for rolling boil and this seemed to work OK.

NOTE TO SELF: always check inside the cavity of a bird for a vacuum sealed packet of giblets; just because you have never bought a bird with a vacuum sealed packet of giblets before does not mean that you never will. One artful well boiled vacuum sealed packet of giblets – see how it glistens in the afternoon sun. Fortunately there was no plastic aftertaste.

Here you have it, one pale, well boiled duck. Nigella says that at this point you can keep the duck in the refrigerator for up to three days. I keep mine in the fridge for about one hour. Please remember to bring the bird up to room temperature before you put it in the oven; about 30 minutes. Cook the duck for 40 minutes in a preheated 220*C oven.

Ta, da one roast duck. It was fabulously moist on the inside and deliciously crispy on the outside. It was so tasty in fact that it has been declared by everyone to be the ‘favouritest roast’ – well who would have guessed that!


  1. I have never eaten Duck. Not sure why???

  2. Looks fantastic, might have to give that a try.