Published November 1, 1998.
The secret to delicious roast duck without a thick layer of fat is a two-step process. Steam it first, then cut it into parts and roast it.
Unlike its wild and some of its domesticated cousins, the Pekin duck is very fatty--so fatty, in fact, as to be off-putting. Half of a bird's weight can be lost in rendered fat while the bird cooks.
A roast duck with crisp skin, moist, flavorful meat, and, of course, a minimum of fat. The duck home cooks are likely to find in the supermarket is the domesticated Pekin duck (not Peking duck, which is a recipe).
Trimming the fat begins with removing by hand the large clumps of white fat that line the body and neck cavity. Loose skin should also be cut away, including most of the flap that covers the neck cavity. Many Asian recipes for duck start with steaming or boiling. The theory is that moist heat melts some of the fat, and this is true. Because moisture transfers heat more efficiently than dry air, moist cooking methods such as steaming cause more fluid loss than dry cooking methods such as roasting. In this case, it was steaming (as opposed to blanching or boiling) that caused the duck to render the most fat (a full 58 percent of its original weight). Still, the legs remained too fatty. To fully degrease the legs, we had to cut up the bird before roasting it. No longer protected from the heat, the fat in the legs just melted away.list of recipes