Thursday, August 13, 2009
Duck was a common thread throughout my childhood. It was the go-to dish in my father's restaurant repertoire, whether it was orangey Siam duck at our favorite Asian restaurant (the miniscule thai, vietnamese, cambodian hybrid Gourmet House in Providence), the rich duck leg with port sauce at Chardonnays (my favorite restaurant of all time), in tiny drumstick form at that abhorrently expensive fancy-pants terrace in Nova Scotia or any other fine establishment where it popped up on the menu. I guess some kids must think of duck as something you feed at the park and chase around, but I knew better. That was one tasty bird! So while my friends did (and often still do) squirm and squeal at the thought, I relish my duck to myself. Unfortunately I've still managed to convert some along the way, which just means less duck for me.
My husband is a prime example of this. He'd never even considered trying duck until I convinced him to take a bite of the aforementioned Siam version. Now he orders it as often as my father did. I cooked my first duck at home for my first dinner party, and it became one of my first recipes on this site. It was nerve-racking and time-consuming and I've since learned to be smarter about cooking for a crowd, but it was delicious. It didn't deter me from trying again, and subsequent projects have led to successes that include the rich duck broth that graced my soup dumplings.
When honeymooning at Lone Mountain Ranch (which I HIGHLY recommend in every facet - but especially for the food), duck came up on the menu a couple of times. Our first night we lingered for 3 hours over the best meal of my life so far which of course included a seared duck breast and leg of duck confit with a cherry demi-glace. (Of course they outdid themselves with my new best meal ever on our last night with prosciutto wrapped quail over herbed spätzle - but that's a story for another time). Later meals also included duck confit crepes and a huckleberried version.
So as you can see, duck and I go way back. In all truth, our relationship is better when we just meet for dinner with little foreplay. But I've found a way around it. You get succulent, flavorful duck with crispy skin and tender flesh in relatively little time with almost no work. This is the way to do duck at home - on the grill with a sticky sweet glaze! Give it a try - or on second thought, maybe you shouldn't! More for me that way! :)
Grilled Duck with Gingered Sticky Glaze
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp 5 spice powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
1/4 cup orange blossom honey
1/4 cup somewhat bitter marmalade
1/4 cup cream sherry
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
an orange - zest removed with a veggie peeler and juice squeezed and reserved
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
Combine honey, marmalade, orange juice and sherry in a small saucepan over medium heat until they start to melt and blend together. Add ginger, garlic, orange zest, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce until very thick (easily coats a spoon without running off.) Let cool.
And now...the duck itself!
1 4-5 lb. duck
1 orange, quartered
1 sweet onion, peeled and quartered
Preheat the grill (gas or charcoal) to a low indirect heat of about 300 to 325 F. If you are using charcoal, gather the coals to both sides and put a drip pan under the middle to cook the duck over. If you are using gas, use only the outer burners and place a drip pan directly under the grate.
Remove any visible fat or pin feathers from your duck, give it a good rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Prick the skin all over with a sharp knife, taking care to just go through the skin and not into the meat. Rub the skin and the inside of the cavity with the spice rub. Stuff the cavity with alternating pieces of orange and onion.
Place the duck over the drip pan on the unheated side of the grill. Close the lid and cook for one hour, rotating halfway. Check to make sure the duck is cooking evenly and the drip pan is not overflowing. Cook for another half hour, rotating after 15 minutes or until sin is starting to get crispy. Brush with glaze, rotate and cook for 10 minutes at a time, repeating until the temperature of the thigh meat reaches 155 F. At that point, remove from the heat, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.