December 18. - I have to take a break from all the sweets. Who would like a piece of a roasted duck?
Duck is traditionally served at the christmas dinner in Denmark. Actually 75% of danes eat duck at christmas. Back in the days people ate goose, and it was roasted in the large ovens in the bakeries, because peoples own oven was too small. Slowly people gravitated towards the duck, because of its size and prize. Farmers wanted to get the good money from the geese they raised, and would eat the cheaper duck themselves.
A Danish-style roasted duck is filled with prunes and apple slices, to keep the duck breast moist. I like to add some slices of oranges and some christmasy spices for extra flavor.
The duck in the picture was a very young bird, maybe only about 5-7 weeks old. So it's a very small bird, with not to much meat on its bones. These ducks are OK if you are making Peking Duck, but is not the best for a danish-style duck. Normally I like an older bird, around 10-12 weeks old. These birds have much more meat. The small bird cost me about $22, and would serve 3 people, while the older one cost $36 and can serve about 6 people. I buy my ducks from Grimaudfarms.com in Stockton, California. I’ve have been very pleased with the birds I have gotten from that place.
This is my take on the danish-style roasted duck.
- 1 duck (7-8 pounds)
- 2 oranges
- 2 apples
- 2 handful of pitted prunes
- A handful salt and some pepper
- 1 star anise
- 3 whole allspice
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 stick of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 265℉ (130℃).
Chop the oranges and apples in the size of the prunes. Mix star anise, allspice, cloves and the broken cinnamon stick with apples, oranges and prunes. Have the salt in a clean cup.
Take neck and giblets out of the duck. Make sure that all feather sacks are out of the duck, you don't want a hard part of the feather in the crispy skin.
Pad the duck dry with some kitchen towel. Salt the duck inside, and fill it with the fruit mixture. Close the opening with a trussing needle.
Truss the duck by placing the duck on a tray with the legs towards you. Tuck the wing tips under the duck. Cut a piece of cooking twine about 3 feet (1 meter), and center it on top of the neck end of the breast. Lift the neck end of the duck and pull the twine down around the wings and under the duck, then bring the ends up over the breast, towards you, and knot the twine, pulling it tight to plump the breast. Bring the ends of the twine around the ends of the drumsticks and straight up. Tie as before to pull the drumsticks together and form a compact bird; tie again to secure knot."
Well, I did it my way, and tried my best to get the compact duck. Sometimes I just pull the wing onto the back of the duck, and use a cooking rubber band to tie the legs together.
Salt the duck with a lot of salt.
Put the duck in the oven, breast side down, and cook it like this for 3-3½ hours. Have a pan under the duck, and put the giblets, neck and water in it. This water/drippings will be the base for the sauce.
After 3½ hours turn the duck breast side up, and roast it for another 1½-2 hours until the temperature in the duck reaches 158℉ (70℃). If the skin isn't crispy, give the bird a few minutes under the boiler, be careful not to burn the duck.
Take the duck out and let it rest. Pour the drippings from the pan through a strainer into a saucepan. Skim the fat from the surface. I use a fat separator, which makes this process a breeze. Save the fat in the refrigerator or the freezer. Duck fat is a flavorful fat, and is perfect to roast potatoes in.
Add some cream, blue cheese and red currant jelly to the drippings and thicken the sauce, just like for the Danish pork roast.