When we visit my in-laws for Christmas, we often cooked Christmas dinner. One year, we did a German spread, with wursts, homemade pretzel, homemade sour kraut, etc… This year, my husband and I decided to cook something different, something we never cooked before, and something that we had to continue to research in the middle of cooking to figure out how to do it. We made duck. I’ll admit, it was my husband’s idea, and I was very skeptical of this decision. Duck is complicated, and we didn’t know the first thing about how to cook it. But he was determined, and he looked so cute and excited when we found a recipe, that I couldn’t say no!
We sent the ingredient list to my mother in law, and she was just as excited as the hubby. She and her friend went on a few adventures looking for duck. The in-laws live down south, so finding duck in the grocery stores is not as easy as where we live. Apparently, after visiting an Asian Market that had very little English speaking staff, she bought a frozen duck whose expiration date was in March 2017 (sketchy!). After finding this out (which was after she bought it!), she promptly threw it out and went to the new Harris Teeter that opened nearby. Apparently, duck is a popular food to cook during the Christmas season (who knew? Doesn’t everyone eat Kielbasa like I do?), and they happened to have some on hand. Score! Two ducks were in her shopping cart, along with the other ingredients needed to make EatingWell’s Orange-Roasted Duck.
The hubby and I (ok…mainly just the hubby) did some research on how to prepare duck. We found that boiling the duck for about 10 minutes helped get rid of the fat from the duck and make it less greasy. It wasn’t part of the recipe, but we decided to do it anyway. We wanted crispy duck, not wet and greasy.
This proved to be quite a feat. We didn’t think to put the cavity facing down in the pot of boiling water, so trying to get the duck out of the pot when it was done was difficult because there was so much water in the duck. We didn’t have huge pots, and there was really no easy way to take the duck out without spilling the water everywhere, which is what happened. Fatty water poured all over the stove as we tried to take both ducks out (oh yeah…we were cooking two of them. Double the mess!). It took the both of us to lift them with tongs, wooden spoons, forks, or whatever else we could use to get the things out of the hot boiling pot of water. We finally did, and drained the water in a bowl. I decided to use oven mitts and just picked up the dang ducks to the counter where we could prep them for roasting. For all you readers out there, if you are going to boil a duck, put the cavity facing DOWN so that the water doesn’t stay in the turkey and you don’t create a wet and greasy mess near a flaming stove!
We prepped the turkey by putting an orange marmalade mixture in between the thick layer of fat and the meat. At least, I think it was between the fat and the meat…there was so much fat on the duck, I couldn’t really tell where the meat was, so I just stuck the marmalade mixture anywhere that I could. Orange slices filled the duck cavity, and we tied them up to make sure that they stayed in.
After roasting for an hour, and hearing the sizzling of fat dropping from the duck into the pan (eww), we basted the duck with the marmalade every 15 minutes for another hour and a half or so. It came out with a relatively crispy skin, moist meat, and a wonderful citrus flavor. It looked gorgeous!
My mother in law picked out the wine for the night, and she chose Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon. This is quite an inky, rich, and thick textured wine, so much so that it is better when sipped slowly and not guzzled. It has dark fruit jam flavors (think plum, boysenberry), along with some tiramisu, black pepper, and toasted oak notes. The texture is what surprised me the most. I never had a wine that thick without being a fortified wine, which this was not.
How did they pair? Unclear…I think the heaviness of the wine and the greasiness of the duck was a bit much for me. The duck seemed to make the wine even heavier for me. I enjoyed the wine better without the duck. The duck, for being our first duck, was….pretty good. I couldn’t quite get myself around the 1/4 inch of fat surrounding the meat. It still came out a little greasy, even with the pre-boiling. Perhaps if we scored the meat before putting it in the oven, this would help get rid of some more of the fat? The taste was pretty flavorful. Not too citrusy, but enough to compliment the meat flavor. Never having duck before, it reminded me of the dark meat from a turkey, only more moist. We had a side of asparagus, roasted potatoes, and spinach salad with baby beets and orange slices. While the foods went together splendidly, I’d give the pairing 3 grapes.
Recipe: Eating Well’s Oven-Roasted Duck
Wine: Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon