On a whim yesterday, we bought a duck during our visit to the butchers. We’d never cooked a duck before, and thought it might be fun to try. Even though the duck was labeled “open range”, I’m a little skeptical as to whether or not it was truly free range, although this recent video from the Sydney Morning Herald does give me a little comfort about the conditions the duck might have been raised in.
Pete suggested that we roast the bird in our Römertopf clay baker, and it worked brilliantly!
We began by washing the bird under running water and removing any loose fat. It was dried and rubbed with a little Maldon salt, then laid in the presoaked clay baker and covered with the lid. The Römertopf baker needs to be submerged in cool water for at least 15 minutes before use, and it needs to go into a cold oven to ensure it doesn’t crack.
Once the pot was in the oven, the temperature was set to 200C with fan, and the duck was left to bake for two hours with the lid on. We took it out a couple of times during the cooking process and carefully poured the excess fat and liquid into a bowl. After the initial two hours, the bird was given an additional half an hour with the lid off to brown.
Edit July 14: we now bake the bird for 40 minutes at 200C with fan (lid on), followed by 2 hours at 150C with fan (lid on), then finish at 175C with fan (lid off) to brown and crisp. The fat and stock are poured off at both the 40 minute mark and when the lid is removed near the end. This results in a super tender duck!
Despite the long oven time, the meat was very tender – possibly a product of the clay baker, which effectively steamed the bird as it was roasting. And because we’d poured the excess liquid off, the end result wasn’t particularly fatty, which was somewhat surprising.
We served the roast duck with our homemade plum sauce, steamed rice and a side of stir-fried green vegetables.
. . . . .
The bowl of liquid we’d drained off as the duck was roasting was left overnight in the fridge, during which time it separated and set. This morning I was able to stash into my freezer a container of duck fat, which will be perfect for very naughty roast potatoes…
…and a container of the most wonderfully concentrated duck stock. It set to a solid jelly – an indication of the high gelatin content. It will form the basis of a delicious mushroom risotto in the near future.
We always roast chickens (and now ducks) in the Römertopf baker. There are several reasons for this – the oven stays clean (notice how that was my first consideration?), and because the pot is presoaked, the cooked meat is moist and flavoursome.
However, the real bonus is that we end up with a small container of fantastically concentrated stock, which forms the basis of a second meal. I believe that if we’re going to eat meat, then we have a responsibility not to waste any of it, so being able to extend it just that little bit further makes me very happy!