Crispy Duck

I love crispy duck and it has made its way into my kitchen on many occasions; already cooked and procured from one of those places that have ducks, chickens and pork belly hanging in a steamy back-alley window. So delicious, I tell ya.

My first real memory of eating crispy duck was at a very fancy Chinese restaurant in the heart of Kensington, London in the late 90s. They also served a rather expensive shark fin soup and other delicacies that I had only read about in books. At the time, I was convinced it was the most expensive restaurant EVER.
I was a guest of a wealthy business man and his wife, who thankfully,
were adverse to shark fin but loved crispy duck.
And garlic noodles.
Having been down this road before, they had ordered the duck when making the dinner reservation several days prior. A great fuss had been made. Admittedly, it was impressive and worth the king’s ransom it demanded.

My crispy duck does not hold a candle to that of the professionals, but it was still delicious. It’s a fun project, but I must admit, I am just as happy with something from the shops.

crispy duck

*this is a 2 day affair…so plan accordingly
1 whole duck–cleaned and dried
finely grated zest from 1 orange
2 tsp chinese 5 spice
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 recipe duck broth
1 recipe glazing sauce
hoisin sauce–to serve
finely sliced green onions–to serve
cucumber cut into strips–to serve
chinese pancakes–to serve
to spatchcock the duck: remove the neck and any other parts from the cavity of the duck.  wash and dry the bird.  remove the backbone and snap the breast bone and flatten the duck.

keep the neck & back in a ziploc in the freezer for use at another time. –it is great for making stock

mix the orange zest, five spice, salt and garlic powder in a small bowl. rub over the entire duck.  place the duck in the refrigerator and let sit 8 hours or overnight.  
next day or day of duck preparation: remove the duck from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.  Steam duck for 25 minutes using duck broth in place of water. I use a bamboo steamer over a wok, but you can use whatever steaming mechanism you have.

Let the duck sit in the steamer for 5 minutes after removing it from the heat. Lift it from the steamer and place on a roasting a roasting pan.  Let it dry fully—I place a small fan in front of it for about 2 hours. Once dry, brush liberally with the glazing sauce–fully saturating the duck.  Again, let sit at least an dry the skin again.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450. Place the duck in the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and cook for about another 40 minutes.  Do not continue to baste, as it will reduce the crispiness of the skin.

Duck Broth

1/2 carrot–chopped
1/2 celery–chopped
1″ knob fresh ginger–roughly chopped
1 shallot–chopped
1 rasher bacon–chopped
olive oil
duck neck (if your duck doesn’t come with it, use the back)
1/2 oz calvados
3 cups chicken stock

Heat a stock pot over medium heat.  Add about 1 TBS of olive oil and bacon.  Cook until the bacon begins to throw off some fat, then toss in the carrot, celery, ginger, and shallot.  Cook for about 3 minutes, then toss in the duck neck.  Cook for 5-6 minutes more then pour in the calvados and let it absorb.  Add the chicken broth and let simmer for about 2 hours.  Strain all solids, tossing everything except the duck neck.  Return the duck neck to the broth and cool until needed. If refrigerating overnight, skim off the solid fat and discard before using.

Glazing Sauce

juice of 1 orange
3 Tbs rice vinegar
3 Tbs honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
heat all ingredients together just until the honey melts enough to incorporate into the rest of the liquid

Game Hens with Patatas Bravas

Yesterday I was editing my photos from our trip to Spain and I came across this photo of patatas bravas; which we enjoyed surrounded by the bustle of La Rambla and a darling waiter whom was leaving fake euros under chair legs as a tease. He was getting much more joy from the fake-out than the actual and generous, I might add gratuity we left.

patatas bravas-barcelona

I immediately had a craving. Hubster is a meat and potato kind of guy and I  am a potato and potato kind of girl. If I were making this just for me I would round this off with a glass of red wine and a good read, but such is not the case. I am accompanying them with cornish hen stuffed with creamy and herbed cheese. If you can’t find game hens, or you don’t like them, you can easily stuff a chicken breast or thigh with the cheese mixture.

cornish hen

2 cornish game hens–cleaned and dried
1/4 cup chevre–room temp
1/2 cup cream cheese–room temp
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic-pulverized to paste
1 Tbs chopped fresh chive
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
Mix together the chevre, cream cheese, pepper, garlic, chive, and parsley.  Split into two portions and stuff into the cavity of each hen; truss it up.   Place in a roasting dish and squeeze lemon juice over the hens, then toss the lemon into the roasting pan. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the hens, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in 400F oven for about 30-40 minutes (depending on size).

Patatas Bravas

2 russet potatoes–peeled and cut into chunks
olive oil
1  large egg yolk
3 cloves garlic–finely chopped
2 tsp lemon
1/4 tsp salt
pinch sugar or drizzle of honey
1/4 tsp paprika (smoked or sweet)
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil
Place potatoes in a pot of cold, salted water.  Boil until you can easily pierce– do not overcook.  Drain and let cool. Make sure they are dry.  Heat oil in a heavy pot and fry potatoes in oil until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with aioli.
FOR AIOLI–place egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice, salt, sugar or honey, paprika, and cayenne (if using) in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Slowly drizzle the olive oil until it comes together like a thin mayonnaise.  Taste for spice.

NOTE:  If there is NO WAY you are going to make aioli or don’t want to use raw eggs…then do this: put 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 large garlic clove–crushed to a paste), 1 tsp lemon juice, pinch sugar, 1/2 tsp paprika, and as much cayenne as you like in a blender and whirl it until everything is really smooth.  This will taste delicious!