Intermission: (Early) Christmas Roast Duck

Several weeks I signed up to a local farmer’s duck mailing list – they had plenty of chickens, but were waiting for the ducks to grow up and had limited supply, so they said I could put my email address down to express interest for a duck. I really had no plans to fork out $$$ for a lovingly hand raised duck, but it turns out their ducks were cheaper than their lovingly hand raised chickens! So I said yes to one when I found that my inbox contained this wonderful news, and picked one up – an added bonus being that this one still had its head attached, how cute! I just wish it also had its feet… oh well.

I was a little disappointed that it came frozen instead of fresh, however, that turned out to be a good thing since I didn’t plan to cook it till the week after. I had spent the next 5 days agonising on how to prepare this delicious being – halved, and cooked two ways? Lightly seasoned and just roasted? But then I remembered one of my favourite restaurant brands had a gorgeous roast duck dish (Pollen Street Social’s roast duck for two) – and I decided to take a chance and make my own version.

It all started with a duck. A very happy duck!

This guy was then salted and set aside for a few hours.

I made a wild rice stuffing in the meantime – a mixture of wild rice, brown long rice and red rice. Cooked the rice with some Italian herb mix first, let it cool, then chopped up some pancetta and cherries and mixed it all up. For some reason the flavour of the cherries got lost in this dish – I wanted it to add sourness and sweetness, but it didn’t quite get there. I wouldn’t have used more though, since I didn’t want sweetness to overpower the mixture.

Next up, honey mustard glaze! After consulting the good old internet, I decided to completely ignore most of what I found and made this up as I went. Honey, dijon mustard, wholegrain mustard and rendered bacon fat (yessss!) went into this.

Once it was all ready, into the oven it went! I was also super forgetful and didn’t end up buying kitchen twine, but managed to improvise leg-tying with some strips of foil. For those who are also super attentive – yes, a duck neck doesn’t bend like that. There’s a toothpick holding its head into that position!

I felt very lucky to have obtained a herb haul from the markets! Rosemary, sage, thyme. With flowers too! They smelled so good!

The still happy duck 🙂

And the plate up and photoshoot. I also baked some kipfler potatoes in the residual fat, but it turns out mixing in thin slices of pink beetroot wasn’t a good idea as their colour got lost. Should roast them separately next time.

And the angled shot!

The end result? Was very happy with my efforts, though the oven wasn’t very consistent, so while the breast was cooked, the marylands weren’t as done as I would have liked them to be. I calculated it at my chicken cooking times; 40mins per kilo, and then added time for the fact that this was quite dense and had stuffing in it (though the stuffing was already cooked, and I knew it wouldn’t overcook, yay for wild rice). I did have a problem with the glaze and bird beak/wings starting to burn due to the uneven heating of the oven (I never exceeded 180 degrees), but due to my limited time, I couldn’t roast this the way I had originally planned (3+ hours cook time at a lower temp).

Nevertheless, it was tasty, the glaze was fantastic, and the stuffing tasted good too! Very happy with my efforts!