As part of my 40 Before 40 list, I wanted to cook a number of recipes I've never done before.
So, per Alton Brown's Good Eats The Early Years recipe book (and TV episode), I made my first duck.
Duck is surprisingly expensive! (Ours was $38 on sale. Who knew?) It was certainly a treat to prepare and eat though, so I recommend it.
It was larger than most chickens (longer) and had a really excellent flavor, especially when paired on each forkful with collard greens cooked in duck fat and washed down with a nice red table wine. Yum.
Speaking of duck fat, it is both: 1) in shockingly plentiful supply on a whole duck (to float on water and give energy to migrate when alive I suppose), and 2) amazingly delicious on potatoes, greens, or almost anything really. Really rich and smooth, but not overly oily.
As described by Alton Brown, we rendered out enough duck fat to make an entire tray full of oven roasted potatoes, with fresh rosemary, a week later.
In order to pack more flavor into the duck itself, we brined the raw duck in orange/pineapple juice, salt, garlic, and peppercorns for two hours. This definitely brought more flavor to the party but when I cook this recipe again, I'll probably brine the duck for at least double that amount of time for a deeper flavor.
Duck meat, when not properly prepared, tends to have a gamy, pungent taste according to Señor Brown. To avoid this, he removes a lot of this fat by first steaming the duck (after quartering it) for 45 minutes and then oven roasting it in an iron skillet, which crisped it up nicely!
The taste produced hints of turkey but much stronger in flavor and, due to the enormous amounts of fat, the meat was tender and had a great mouth feel.
All of this was very time consuming to do (4 hours total) but it was excellent good eats and I would definitely make this recipe again. I highly recommended for others to try.
See original recipe here.