Is your household literally sick of turkey, like mine is?
Goodness, I can sense your burning desire to educate me on the difference between literally and figuratively, all the way from over here. That is a toasty blaze. But before you snuggle on your TED Talk microphone headset, you should know that my daughter is allergic to turkey meat, and thus indeed is literally sick of it, despite having had none. So take your pedantry elsewhere, greenhorn.
But do not pity our holiday meals, lacking as they may in turkey. There are yet finer, even more traditional meats for the Christmas season, such as the eponymous Christmas Goose, favored by Cratchit families everywhere. And while goose might be a little overblown for everyday use — in which regard they are just like turkeys, because who roasts a whole turkey during the first ten months of the year? Only the criminally insane, that’s who — their smaller cousin the duck is perfect for a gathering of just the nuclear family on an average Tuesday night.
But you could cook a goose using this exact same method, if you wanted. I’m just sayin’.
God, I’m long-winded today. It’s the holidays that do it to me. I like to think of it as getting into the Dickens spirit, rather than a cheap defense mechanism against awkward relative chit-chat. There I go again. Let’s just focus on the duck.
First, fill a pot of water around your duck, still in the package, so you’ll be heating just the right amount of liquid to perfectly submerge it when you’re ready. Some people may question this method of parboiling first, then roasting, but I assure you, I have cooked more ducks than most people, and this is the way to do it.
Add one Tablespoon of salt to the water, and bring it to a boil.
Meanwhile, unwrap your duck, pull out the gizzard and other riff raff from the middle, and stab it all over with a fork. Pricking the skin allows the fat to leak out while it’s boiling, later resulting in that addictively crispy skin everyone’s so fond of.
Boil your duck for 45 minutes, using the lid to keep it submerged if necessary. Then carefully lift it out and set it aside, being sure to turn it sideways and drain the cavity so you don’t accidentally pour boiling water all over your countertop. Using a spoon, scoop up some of the fat that has collected on the surface of your broth…
…and use it to grease the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish.
Now, this part isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s an unbelievably good idea. If you let this pot full of amazing broth go to waste, I’m sorry but we can never be friends. It’s not even any extra work! All you have to do is dump in the neck and other organs that came with your duck to the pot, put the lid back on and let it simmer for the rest of the evening while you do your thing.
Back to the duck! After removing it from the pot, pat the skin dry and let it sit while the oven preheats to 500. Then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, and roast for just 30 minutes more in said 500-degree oven.
Here is an actual honest fact: this picture isn’t the original duck I was cooking in the previous photograph. Nor was it the one after that. Or the one after that. Because every freaking time I pulled one of these babies out the oven, I was overwhelmed with the promise of crispy duck skin and forgot all about taking the final picture. I’ve been wanting to post this recipe forever, but it took me four dang rotations through the menu before I finally managed to get a picture of the final product. Trust me, it is that good.
This one, however, is the original duck, after we carved it and ate it and picked it clean for leftovers. Just when you think this carcass can be of no further use to you, that’s when you add it to your burgeoning stock pot and sap the last bits of goodness from its bones. Late in the evening, when you strain it clear and portion it into little 2-cup servings in the freezer for all your future broth needs, you will hear the faint whisper of duck feathers in the aether, and you will know what love is.
1 whole duck, 5-6 lbs.
1 TBS salt
salt & pepper