Thursday, February 5, 2009

Duck Reign O'er me

Peking Duck

I don't always have the best pictures or the best recipes,
and some of these duck images are exactly what Simmer Till Done doesn't want to see in a blog. HA!
But its fun to try new things, challenge ourselves.
I'll apologize in advance for the poor lighting,
I worked so hard on this duck I didn't care that I was stuck
photographing this at night with my crappy kitchen lighting.
For those of you just diving into the world of food photography:
Make that soft warm available light.


Duck and movie. That was my night.
Editing these damn duck pictures which took entirely too long for a duck
that didn't really turn out the way it was supposed to.
But it tasted good and in my world that's good enough.
When do things ever turn out the way we plan them anyway.
Not one damn thing I have ever cooked has ever turned out the way I thought it would,
sometimes worse sometimes better, but at least I tried.
Doesn't mean my effort went to waste.

Maybe the pictures took so long because I got wrapped up in a movie.
You guessed it.
Love Reign O'er me.
If you haven't seen it, I think you're missing out.
You know I read movie reviews. They get a little heady for me.
Not that I'm stupid, but when I watch a movie, quite frankly
I don't give a rat's ass who the director was,
nor do I care about analyzing the thing to it's death.
Too often I feel that happens.

When I watch a movie, all I care about was did it move me?
Did it make me laugh, did it make me cry, did it challenge my thinking,
was the dialog engaging, I mean who doesn't like a good script.
I want to be entertained. We all do right?

I loved this movie. In fact I didn't move but I was moved,
save for a few strokes of the key board, thru the whole thing.
I've had to pee for and hour and a half.

The recipe I used is obviously not mine.
Ken Hom recipe from his Chinese Cookery book. You start with a 4 to 5 pound duck.
If it is frozen, thaw it thoroughly. Rinse the duck and pat it dry with paper towels.
The duck will need to hang overnight in a cool, dry place.

You will need to tie kitchen string under and around the wings,
and then be able to hang the duck using the string.
Or, if you have a meat hook, you can insert the hook through the duck near its neck.
Use whatever works best for you. I used kitchen string wrapped around the wings.

I had no kitchen string.
Some of you have seen me use this trick before with the cream of mushroom soup recipe.
Panty hose.
Works great in a pinch. No I didn't use the crotch part.
Yes I they were clean, at least I think so.
No we do not choke the chicken with the nylons, I mean the duck.
(not this time anyway)

(double wrap around the duck wing)

Next, make the honey syrup mixture in which the duck will bathe prior to hanging.
In a large pot combine:
1 thinly sliced lemon,
4 cups water,

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons dark soy sauce

and 2/3 cup rice wine or dry sherry.

(oh and Miss Sandie....tell me what you see in that image)
Cos I see a Texas longhorn.
kinda cool innit?

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Turn the heat down

and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

With one hand hold the duck over the pot.
We discussed this earlier.
HANG THE DUCK save your hand for the chicken. It's lighter.
I guarantee it.

Using a ladle or large spoon in the other hand, pour the syrup over the duck several times,
until all the skin and the inside of the duck is completely coated with the mixture.
This process takes a good 5 to 10 minutes.
If your arms get tired, rest the duck on the side of the pot for a minute or two.

This is your flavoring, so you want to really coat the duck well.

Here's what I did. I cleaned out half of our refrigerator and removed the shelves.

Make sure to put a pan underneath the duck to catch the drippings,
or you will have a mess in your refrigerator.
If you don't have room in your refrigerator,
try to find a cool spot in your house, basement or garage.

Let the duck hang and dry at least 5 hours.
I hung mine for a little over 24 hours.
Once the duck has dried, the purpose of this step,
the surface of the skin will begin to feel like parchment. (it kinda sorta did)

After 24 hours. You may not be able to tell from the photo, but the skin is nice and dry.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

While the oven is heating up, place the duck on a rack in your roasting pan, breast side up.
Put 1/2 to 1 cup of water in the bottom of the roasting pan.
This will help reduce splattering in the oven from the duck fat.
Place the duck in the hot oven.
If you have convection and want really crisp skin,
turn the convection on for this part of the cooking.
Cook at this high heat for 15 minutes.

To the right is the duck after 15 minutes. Pull the duck from the oven.
Turn it breast side down on the rack and return the duck to the oven.
Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
Turn off the convection if you have it on.
Cook the duck for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, turn the duck back over to breast side up
and continue cooking for 40 minutes.
I did baste the duck with a simple syrup and honey mixture.
I felt it needed more. I could have been wrong in doing that,
when I saw that the skin wasn't going to be crisp I figured it didn't matter.

Place the duck on a cutting board
and allow to rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes prior to carving.

Using a cleaver or very sharp chef's knife,
cut the skin and meat into pieces and place on a warm platter.

Serve the duck with Chinese pancakes (mu shu wrappers),
duck sauce and sliced scallions. If you can't find Chinese wrappers,
you can use canned flaky biscuits. Instead of baking the biscuits you want to steam them.
Pull flaky layers apart and place them in a single layer in steamer.

Steam for 4 to 5 minutes until puffy and cooked through. (I tried these biscuits , bleh) _MG_9775a

For duck sauce, combine equal parts of hoisin sauce and duck demi-glace.
If you don't have duck demi-glace, take either duck or chicken stock
and cook it down until it's about 1/4 original volume.
Mix the reduced stock with hoisin sauce in a one to one ratio.
(Use low sodium stock as you are concentrating it and you don't want to OD on salt!)

To eat, take a steamed biscuit or warmed mu shu wrapper.
Coat with a little duck sauce. Top with pieces of scallion (green onion), duck meat and duck skin.

Not as good as our Peking duck lunch in China town.
But good enough to remind my taste buds.

Peking Duck on a bun



alice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alice said...

Wow, making peking duck takes serious commitment. Congrats!!

Kathleen said...

Alice thnx,

The recipe was good, it wasn't difficult, but somewhere in the execution I failed, the skin didn't get as crisp as it should have.

Was fun to try, and the flavor was there, and well, we ate it all.

Thnx for stopping by ...truly.

Jared said...

The trick they do at BBQ shops in chinatown is to inflate the duck with air to seperate the skin from the meat.

The duck turned out really well for your first time.

Kathleen said...

Jared! Thank you!

I've seen it, been to Chinatown and read about it.

LOL was thinking that shopvacs aren't just for garages anymore. ha.

chuck said...

Kathleen, I have no idea what your talking about. That top photo and the rest are stunning. I love the fact that you didn't have much lighting on the top picture. It really give a wonderful look. beautiful.

I have to bow to you on making this Peking Duck. I don't think I would of had the guts to do it.

I looks amazing! Well done!!

Kathleen said...


You know i kept comments closed for the longest time because I didn't want it to be an ego feed of commentary yanno?

wasn't fishing.


I am going to blush a bit here, mumble a few things about how incandescent light bites, and say thank you. just thank you.

La Table De Nana said...

I can relate to having comments closed..I like that idea too..But then I would have all these words trapped inside me..Like ..Oh I laughed out loud at the crotch part!!
How ALL your photos are simply superb.. And how I don't think I have ever gone to so much effort to cook anything.

This was like reading a short story..a short story.
I am so happy I could give a review:)
You write as well as you photo.

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