I grew up associating Thanksgiving and Winter holidays with roasted turkey. Even though I only shared a home with my parents, we somehow were gifted multiple turkeys every Fall. This meant that I basically ate turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, and turkey soups every week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even though I love turkey, eating so much of it in the past has encouraged me to eat more duck!
I love getting duck (and other poultry) from Miloski’s Farm in Calverton whenever I can. They raise excellent free-range birds and I like that I can get them fresh instead of frozen. A simple roasted duck has delicious crispy skin, and yields beautiful and rich duck fat which make roasted potatoes and any root vegetable decadent.
The key to a crispy skin is to make sure the skin is very dry prior to roasting. I achieve this by allowing the duck to rest uncovered in the fridge overnight. I then make a rub for the skin and allow the duck to sit in the fridge a little longer before roasting it in the oven with root vegetables, cranberries, and citrus fruit. Keep in mind that the duck I used for this recipe was on the smaller side, so you may need to roast your duck a little longer if it is larger. If you have an exceptionally fatty duck, you can pierce the skin with a few holes or even score the breast skin to render the fat and achieve a nice crispy skin. Serve this dish as is, or with some mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus for a wonderful holiday meal!
Citrus and Cranberry Roast Duck with Carrots and Parsnips
For the Duck
1 medium Peking Duck (4-5 lbs)
Zest from ½ Lemon
Zest from ½ Orange
2-3 sprigs Rosemary, roughly chopped
Handful of Thyme, leaves removed from the stems
1 large clove Garlic, grated or microplaned
2 pinches of Black Pepper
~2 teaspoons Salt
2 tablespoons Olive Oil or Duck Fat (melted)
1 Lemon, quartered
½ Orange, halved
1 onion, sliced ½ inch thick and cut into half moons
For the Root Vegetable Mixture
¼ cup Ruby Port, or Merlot or Shiraz (or substitute stock)
3 Carrots, cut into matchsticks
1-2 Parsnips, cut into matchsticks
½ Orange, halved and sliced
2 whole Star Anise
1 Cinnamon Stick
Pinch of Ground Ginger
2 clove Garlic, smashed
1-2 tablespoons Honey
For the Cranberry Sauce
1 cup Fresh Cranberries
2-3 tablespoons Orange Juice
2 tablespoons Honey (or Sugar)
1 clove Garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper
Unwrap the duck and dry it well with paper towels. Lay it in a glass pyrex or sheet pan covered with a towel or paper towel and let it sit in the refrigerator uncovered overnight. In the morning, remove the towels and dry the pan, then make the rub. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix together, along with a few good pinches of salt. Massage the rub all over the duck and place it back on the pan and in the fridge uncovered for the remainder of the day.
In the evening, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Stuff the inside cavity with the quartered lemon and orange, and additional fresh herbs, if desired. Cut the onion into half moons and arrange them in the center of an oven-safe and stove-top safe pan (I used a cast iron braiser). Lay the duck breast side down over the onions so that there is a layer of onion between the duck and the pan. Adjust the onion slices as necessary so that none of the duck is touching the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Afterward, flip the bird over carefully and place the duck breast side up in the pan while keeping it on top of the onions. Return the pan to the oven for another 30 minutes. While the duck is cooking, mix together the cranberries, orange juice, honey, and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Remove the duck from the oven and set it aside on a plate. Carefully heat the pan on the stove top at medium heat and add the wine, star anise, garlic and cinnamon stick. Let the liquid bubble and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Once the liquid has been bubbling and starting to reduce, add the honey, ginger, carrots, and parsnips. Add a few pinches of salt and stir everything together. Allow the mixture to cook on the stove top for an additional 2-3 minutes, then stir in the orange slices. Nestle the duck into the mixture and return it to the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, combine the ingredients for the cranberry sauce and spoon the cranberry mixture over the entire pan. Return the pan to the oven once more and roast for another 20-30 minutes. If the duck is fully cooked but the vegetables need a bit more time, remove the duck and allow it to rest on a plate or cutting board, and return the pan back to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until everything is tender and caramelized.