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Perfecting the Crispy Roast Duck 

BY ERIC GUIDO | MAY 22, 2020

Roasting a duck while properly rendering the fat and getting that perfect crispy skin can be quite intimidating. However, with just a few simple tricks and the right preparation, you’ll be hitting your family or holiday table with a platter of perfectly moist, seasoned meat and the crispiest skin you can possibly imagine. It’s so good that you won’t even need the stereotypical citrus glaze to go with it, but we’ll cover that as well. So, get your roasting pan ready, and don’t forget your glass because we also have some wine pairings that will complement all that crispy goodness. 

So, what’s all the fuss about roasting duck? Why do we fear it so much?

I was right there with you; every time I tried my hand at roasted duck, I ended up with either burned skin with rendered fat (full of burnt pieces) or crispy skin with too little fat rendered, which created both a messy and an unenjoyable meal at the table. Before long, I gave up, instead choosing to order duck whenever I’d see it at restaurants. The problem here was that most establishments would pile on the potatoes, provide far too little meat, drown the bird in a sweet gravy, and often overcook it (because they also had problems rendering the fat).

Then one day it all came together when I was researching, of all things, how to dry-age beef in a home refrigerator. While the process for dry-aging beef, versus what I now do to prepare my duck, is vastly different, the inspiration itself came from the same science. The fact is that cold air holds less moisture than warm air Your refrigerator is constantly circulating this dry, cold air, while the compressor also works as water collects on the coils and evaporates. What you have is a sealed chamber, at safe temperatures, that is constantly pulling the water out of anything left uncovered. Suddenly it all made sense. I found the perfect way to dry the skin so that it would crisp at a lower temperature, over a longer period of time, which would allow the fat to render completely. While this is just one of a few tricks that we’ll talk about here, it was the moment that I realized that I’d never have to eat duck outside of my home ever again.

The video tutorial is packed full of hints and tips to cook the perfect Crispy Roast Duck.


The Ingredients You’ll Need: 

For the roast duck (serves four):

5-6-pound duck – If frozen, defrost 2-3 days in your refrigerator

1 tbls Kosher salt

1 lemon (quartered)

3-4 sprigs thyme

1 bunch sage

The orange gravy: 

1 tbls flour

1 tbls butter

1 cup chicken stock

½ cup white wine

2 tsp white sugar

1 bunch sage

Juice of one whole orange

Salt and pepper for seasoning


Suggested Wine Pairings:

Bordeaux Blend - Featured Wine: 2005 Andrew Will Sorella. Find it on Delectable

Bordeaux (Saint-Émilion styled, Merlot dominant) - Featured Wine: 2017 Maculan Brentino. Find it on Delectable

Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Grenache). Find it on Delectable

Côtes du Rhône - 2017 Domaine Giraud Côtes du Rhône Vieilles Vignes Les Sables d'Arène. Find it on Delectable

Champagne - 2014 Laherte Frères Champagne Premier Cru Extra Brut Les Longues Voyes. Find it on Delectable

Share your own wine pairings on Delectable and check out what others have paired with Crispy Roast Duck.


The Process:

1. If using a frozen duck, allow two to three days for it to defrost in your refrigerator.

If using a frozen duck, make sure to defrost in the refrigerator for about two to three days before opening.

2. 24 hours prior to roasting your duck, make a space in your refrigerator, and prepare a small sheet pan, lined with a paper towel and rack.

3. Take the duck out and remove it from its packaging, allowing any liquid from the duck and inside of its cavity to drain out.

Rendered duck fat is liquid gold and can be saved after roasting and used as a cooking oil that will add massive flavor to dishes.

4. Remove any contents from the cavity. (The neck and heart are perfect for stock, while the liver can be sautéed in butter with just a bit of salt and pepper for an amazing, healthy snack.)

5. Place the duck on the rack; you can pat it dry if desired, and place the rack in the refrigerator, uncovered until the following day.

6. The next day, remove your duck from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for about one hour. 

7. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

8. When ready to roast, use a very sharp knife to score the skin in a crisscross pattern, but be careful not to cut through to the flesh. Also, use the knife to poke through the skin in the fattier parts of the bird, such as around the thighs.

Scoring the duck on both sides will open the fat underneath and allow the fat to start coming out as it roasts.

9. Clip off the wing tips.

10. Season the duck liberally with salt, inside and out, and then stuff the cavity with a quartered lemon, thyme and sage.

11. With a butcher’s twine, truss the legs together to form a partial seal around the cavity.

12. Place the duck, breast-side up, into a heavy gauge stainless steel roasting pan, and then into the oven.

13. Set your timer for one hour.

14. Remove your duck from the oven and set the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

15. Flip the duck over to be breast-side down and place back into the oven, also setting the timer for another hour.

16. At the two-hour mark, remove the duck from the oven again, and flip the bird back to being breast-side up.

17. Place back into the oven for one final hour.

Place aluminum foil lightly over the pan and allow the duck to rest.

18. Once done, pull the duck from the oven and set it aside for a ½ hour to rest. (This is a good time to finish your gravy)

19. When ready, plate your duck on a serving platter with roasted vegetables, sprigs of thyme and slices of orange, with gravy on the side.

Plate the duck and roasted vegetables on a platter and garnish with orange slices and sprigs of thyme.


The Orange Gravy:

(It’s important to make your roux early enough for it to cool entirely before completing the gravy.)

1. To make a roux, use a small sauté pan over medium heat.

2. With a whisk in hand, add the butter to the pan and allow the water to cook out.

A roux is a classic French preparation that will naturally thicken the gravy.

3. Next add the flour and begin whisking the mixture together. You’re looking to whisk out any chunks of flour.

4. This is a quick process; you’re looking for a toasty smell and tan color.

5. Immediately remove the roux from the pan into a cool bowl and set aside.

The sage will not be used in the final mix, so using uncut sage lets the flavor infuse into the sauce and allows for easy removal. 

6. In a clean sauté pan over a medium-high flame, add white wine and reduce.

7. Next add the sugar and whisk to combine.

8. Now add chicken stock and the juice of one whole orange. Bring the heat to high and allow the sauce to reduce by half.

9. Reduce heat to low and add your sage; allow it to simmer in the sauce for a minute or two, then remove the sage and turn off the heat.

Part of the thickening power of a roux comes from the act of adding the cold roux to a hot liquid. 

10. Whisk in the roux to form a consistent sauce.