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ducking the summer

For the first time in months, the high temperature has been under 100 degrees. The high 90’s may not seem like much a of reprieve to most people, but for those of us in the Valley of Sun, it’s a huge difference. It is most likely more of  a break mentally, but it makes us happy and gives us hope that fall is finally on its way!

So, duck is not traditionally thought of as a warm weather dish, but it was surprising refreshing, even on a 96 degree day. It was inspired by a recipe I’d seen by Tyler Florence, one of my favorite celebrity chefs.

I saved the water used for steaming the duck, poured it into a large glass measuring cup and chilled it. Then I removed the top layer of fat and used the water underneath to boil jasmine rice as an accompaniment for the duck. Finally, I seasoned the rice with salt and a few dashes of Chinese five-spice. 

Although this recipe takes about 2 hours to cook, the actual hands-on time is less than 10 to 15 minutes.

I also cooked the excess skin that was removed and used a bit of the resulting duck fat (CLICK HERE to learn how- It is EASY) for oven-roasted sweet potato fries and served them with a side of Sriracha Mayo. YUM! The fries and the mayo are winners! I’ll post that easy-breezy recipe tomorrow.

Five-Spice Roasted Duck

1 whole (5 to 6 pound) duck
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Six 1-inch thick slices fresh ginger
5 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
1 large orange, peel only; cut off in long strips
4  green onions, cut into thirds crosswise

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce

Trim off the excess fat from the duck, generally found at both ends.

Remove the giblets and sauce packet (if included) from the cavity. Rinse the duck inside and out and then pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.

In a small bowl, mix together the Chinese five-spice powder, sugar, and salt. Use your hands to rub all of the spice mixture over the outside and inside the duck.

Stuff the cavity of the duck with the ginger, garlic, orange peel, and lastly the green onions. The onions will help hold the smaller items inside.

Tie down the wings and tie together the legs with kitchen string.  Use a small paring knife to poke the duck breast a couple of times, piercing the sink. (This helps release more of the fat while steaming and helps shrink the skin some, producing a crispy skin while roasting later.)

Place a large dutch-oven on the stovetop over 1 burner or a roasting pan on the stovetop over 2 burners and fill with 2-inches of water, turn the heat to medium high. If your dutch-oven has a steaming rack, place it inside or set a V-rack inside the roasting pan and lay the duck on the rack, breast-side up. Cover the dutch-oven with a lid or tightly cover and seal the roasting pan with aluminum foil. Steam the duck on the stovetop for 45 minutes, checking the water level after the first 25 minutes. (Steaming the duck before roasting helps melt away some of the fat, shrinks the skin, and obviously reduces oven time.)

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and soy sauce over low heat. Cook and stir for 5 minutes until thick.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take the lid or foil off, remove the rack with the duck, and pour out the water and all the fat that has rendered out (Chill and save this water, remove the fat that rises to the top, and use water in other dishes like boiled or fried rice, if desired.)

Put the rack with the duck back inside the dutch-oven or roasting pan. Baste the duck with the vinegar mixture, until all the skin is completely coated on all sides. Place in oven, uncovered, and roast the duck for 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes with the remaining glaze. The glaze caramelizes during roasting, making the skin crisp, brown, and oh so delicious.

Test the legs after an hour, they will wiggle easily when it the duck is done. Carve as you would a roast chicken and serve.

Serves 4

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