I embarked on a cooking challenge recently. A little beyond my previous level of experience. Something I'd been wanting to make for a while. A duck. Yep, that's right, roasting a duck. The fella loves duck you see. Given the chance it is what he will order when out and about. Particularly if we find ourselves in China Town. Crispy skinned duck, cooked for hours, hanging in a shop window. When you order, language is a barrier so simply pointing and making enthusiastic noises gets you what you want.
As for me and my duck...
Well it sat in the freezer for some time while I read recipes and compared processes. Did it really need to be cooked for hours? After all, isn't it really just a chicken? And if a chicken was roasted for three hours it would be as dry as a bone. And all that fat that the recipes keep talking about. Surely there can't be that much fat ensuring I need to drain it every half an hour? To stuff or not to stuff? Sauce along with or along side? Vegetables?
Well, this wasn't going to be a post about duck. It was to be about ice cream. But I'll save dessert for later. In the end I chose to go with Jamie. I find that his recipes work. Certainly his meat ones anyhow. And he doesn't mind trying interesting flavours also. Plus the particular recipe of his I stumbled across stipulated rhubarb. One of my favourite ingredients. I had to make it. And it was moreish. With gravy. And potatoes basted with duck fat... very lip smackingly good.
Try it if you will. But I do have to apologise for the pictures. The duck came out of the oven, and before it could be neatly presented was snapped up. So odd looking awkward bird, you were tasty, really you were.
Roast Duck with Rhubarb and Garlic Gravy
Serves 3 (or 4 at a pinch).
1 whole duck, around 1.8 kg
Salt and pepper
1 stalk rhubarb, diced
Half a head of garlic, peeled and cloves cut into thirds
1 onion, thinly sliced
Handful basil, torn
1/3 c red wine
2/3 c vegetable stock
Pre-heat oven to 180* C.
Prepare you duck by washing it and removing any juice from it. Pat dry and season the skin and cavity well with salt and pepper. Combine the rhubarb, garlic, onion and basil in a bowl. Stuff it inside the duck's cavity, then close the duck up modestly.
Place the duck on a rack, place the rack into an oven tray and bake for an hour. Drain the fat off half way through, and make sure you have lots of fans going in your home. Or else the smoke detectors are likely to be set off. So much fat comes out of this bird. So much!
After an hour, reduced the oven's temperature to 150* C. Cook for a further hour and a half, until the drumsticks pull off easily. You may not need this long, you may need longer. Remove the duck from the oven, scoop out the stuffing, cover the duck and let it rest.
Place the stuffing in the oven tray. Put the tray onto the stove top and heat over a medium heat. Scrape off the sticky bits on the tray, smooshing up the rhubarb and garlic as needed. Add the wine and stock, bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for around 10 minutes. Strain the gravy through a sieve into your gravy boat.
Carve up the duck, or just hack into it as I did. Serve with gravy poured over and also some roasted potatoes what were lovingly brushed in duck fat while they cooked in the oven. Some peas are tasty too.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Happy Days with the Naked Chef.