Posts Tagged ‘sustainably raised’

Chinese Peking Duck in Your Kitchen

April 29, 2015
Stokesberry Ducks copyright Zachary D. Lyons

Stokesberry Ducks copyright Zachary D. Lyons



When we talk about seasonal ingredients, most of us think of fruits and vegetables. But animals have a seasonal clock, too – and now’s the time for Peking duck! Also known as Long Island duckling, Peking (also spelled as Pekin) duck is an American descendant of the Chinese Mallard. Mild, tender and meatier than the gamier Muscovy, Peking duck loves high heat, all the better for that crispy skin. Many of us only have had the pleasure in a Chinese restaurant; now’s the chance to try it at home – while they last! Janelle Stokesberry reports that they will also have duck eggs on hand.

A few kitchen tips:

* Ducks typically have a thick layer of fat (not as fat-laden as geese but noticeably denser than chickens). Take the time to trim away fat pockets, particularly around the neck cavity.

Many duck-loving cookbook authors suggest air drying the duck to help draw out the moisture in the fat and ensure your chances of crispy skin. Pat it dry inside and out, place uncovered on a rack-lined pan or plate, in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. (Don’t fret if you don’t have that kind of time; even an hour will help.)

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven 425 or 450 and bring the duck up to room temperature.

  • Season really well with salt inside and out – estimate about 1 teaspoon salt (we like fine sea salt) for every 1 ½ pounds. Other seasonings that are nice: Grated fresh ginger in the cavity, five-spice powder, smoked paprika, a simple syrup of honey.
  • With a fork, needle or pin, prick the fat all over, be careful not to pierce the meat. If you don’t own a rack, make one with a few ribs of celery so that the duck doesn’t sit in its own juices.

After 20 to 25 minutes, spoon off any fat in the roasting pan (and there will be some). Don’t discard – it’s like liquid gold, taking roasted vegetables to a whole new deliriously delicious level. (Use sparingly –it’s rich!)

Reduce the heat to about 350 degrees and roast for an additional 20 minutes, drain more of that glorious fat, and check its internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Now here’s when cookbook authors are all over the map – some like it pink inside, at about 145 degrees in the deep part of the breast; others wait til juices are closer to clear, at about 170 degrees. That’s cook’s choice.

Some, including Janelle Stokesberry, recommend a final blast of heat (back to 425 or 450 degrees ) to ensure crispy, crackly skin. Regardless of what you decide, transfer the duck (and carefully) to a platter. Check for accumulating juices inside the cavity and pour out (and reserve – those are delicious morsels). Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. Enjoy!