Whole Roast Duck with Cherry Sauce
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WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
The qualities that make duck special to eat—it contains all dark meat that's rich in flavorful fat—also make it a challenge to cook well. We began by trimming the bird thoroughly of excess fat around the neck and cavity, and then scored the... Read More
GATHER YOUR INGREDIENTS
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Pekin ducks may also be labeled as Long Island ducks and are typically sold frozen. Thaw the ducks in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This recipe was developed with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. If using Morton kosher salt, use 25 percent less. Do not thaw the cherries before using. If desired, pulse the cherries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. In step 4, the crumpled aluminum foil prevents the rendered fat from smoking. Even when the duck is fully cooked, its juices will have a reddish hue.
FOR THE DUCK: Use your hands to remove large fat deposits from bottom of cavity. Using kitchen shears, trim excess neck skin from top of breast; remove tail and first 2 segments from each wing, leaving only drumette. Arrange duck breast side up. With tip of sharp knife, cut slits spaced ¾ inch apart in crosshatch pattern in skin and fat of breast, being careful not to cut into meat. Flip duck breast side down. Cut parallel slits spaced ¾ inch apart in skin and fat of each thigh (do not crosshatch).
Rub 2 teaspoons salt into cavity. Rub 1 teaspoon salt into breast, taking care to rub salt into slits. Rub remaining 1 tablespoon salt into skin of rest of duck. Align skin at bottom of cavity so 1 side overlaps other by at least ½ inch. Use sturdy toothpick to pin skin layers to each other to close cavity. Place duck on large plate and refrigerate uncovered for 6 to 12 hours.
Place duck breast side up in Dutch oven. Add water until at least half of thighs are submerged but most of breast remains above water, about 6 cups. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain vigorous simmer. Cook, uncovered, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of drumstick, all the way to bone, registers 145 to 160 degrees, 45 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes. After 20 minutes of cooking, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Stir maple syrup and soy sauce together in small bowl.
Remove pot from heat. Crumple 20-inch length of aluminum foil into loose ball. Uncrumple foil and place in roasting pan. Set V-rack on foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Using tongs and spatula, lift duck from pot, allow liquid to drain, and transfer to V-rack, breast side up. Brush breast and top of drumsticks with approximately one-third of maple syrup mixture. Flip duck and brush remaining mixture over back and sides. Transfer braising liquid to large bowl to cool. (Once cool, defat liquid and reserve liquid and/or fat for another use, if desired.) Roast until back is golden brown and breast registers 140 to 150 degrees, about 20 minutes.
Remove roasting pan from oven. Using tongs and spatula, flip duck breast side up. Continue to roast until breast registers 160 to 165 degrees, 15 to 25 minutes longer. Transfer duck to carving board and let rest for 20 minutes.
FOR THE SAUCE: Whisk maple syrup, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, and pepper together in small saucepan. Add thyme sprig and bring to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with rubber spatula. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes longer. Stir in cherries and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has consistency of maple syrup, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard thyme sprig and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving bowl. Carve duck and serve, passing sauce separately.