“Here is a technique that gets a pretty good result, about as close as you can get to looking like a store bought duck. Plucking a duck can be a pretty laborious job but this technique is pretty quick and easy and means you get to enjoy the whole bird and its crispy skin.”
You will need:
A big pot to boil water
A bucket of cold water
Find a place where you don’t mind making a bit of a mess and get your knives sharpened and ready along with a decent sized chopping board sitting on a wet towel to stop it from moving round on you. One of the first things you will want to do is get your big pot on to boil and add your paraffin wax to it to melt. Apparently National brand candles are made of paraffin wax which is certified food grade.
Remove the wings.
Remove the wing and tail feathers. The easiest way is to pull these straight out, with the grain.
All the other feathers are easiest if pulled out against the grain. Don’t completely pluck the duck, what we want to do is leave a covering of the down feathers so we can remove them with the hot wax.
Holding your semi plucked duck (guts still intact) by the head and feet, dip it slowly into a pot with the melted wax for a few seconds then transfer to a bucket of cold water. Leave the duck there for about 5 minutes in order for the wax to set rock hard.
Now that the wax is hard and has stuck to the feathers you can start at the neck and carefully peel it off the duck, removing all the feathers in the process. Once your duck has all the feathers and wax removed you can go ahead and remove the head and feet. If there are any small down feathers left here and there they can be singed by a quick go with a blow torch.
To gut the bird remove the tail by cutting straight through just past where the bones stop. Reach into the cavity and pull out all the contents being sure to remove the lights (lungs) which are found at the neck end of the bird on either side of the backbone. Give it a good rinse inside and out with cold running water, inspect for any shot and pat it dry. Now it’s ready to cook.
This recipe utilises the whole duck and because of the slow method of cooking in fat you end up with a tender, moist and flavoursome result. I recommend giving the Brussel sprouts a go as bacon always makes things better but if you don’t feel like making the accompaniments then serving with some nice buttery mash potatoes is the way to go.
Duck confit on caramelised Brussel sprouts, bacon and grain mustard with bread sauce and fig chutney
1 Duck, cleaned
Rendered duck fat
1 bulb Garlic
6 Juniper berries (or 1 Star anise)
1 tsp Peppercorns
1/2C Rock salt
12 sprigs Thyme
3 Bay leaves
400g Brussel sprouts
1Tbs Wholegrain mustard
4 Rashers streaky bacon (or 2 rashers Middle bacon)
4Tbs Brown sugar
1 Whole clove
4 Whole peppercorns
1 Clove garlic
1 Bay leaf
1 Sprig thyme
2 Slices white toast bread (crusts removed)
Pinch ground nutmeg
Salt and white pepper
Place all the confit salt ingredients except the salt itself into a food processor or using a mortar and pestle coarsely grind together. Add the salt and briefly grind together until well mixed. Cut the duck completely in half along the back bone and rub the salt mix all over and into both sides of the duck. Cover and leave in the fridge for 10-12 hours or overnight. After no more than 12 hours rinse off all the salt mix under cold running water and pat the duck dry on a kitchen towel. Place the duck in an oven proof dish and cover completely with rendered duck fat, cover with baking paper then tin foil and bake at 110C for 2-4 hours until the meat easily falls away from the bone. As long as the duck is covered in the fat it can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 months. To serve, drain the duck out of the fat (keep the fat for next time or for roasting potatoes), then roast in a hot oven to crisp up the skin.
Cut the Brussel sprouts in half lengthwise and cook in salted boiling water until they’re just cooked; about 5 minutes. Drain and keep to one side. Chop up the bacon and fry in a little oil for 1 min. Add to the pan the Brussel sprouts, butter, brown sugar and mustard and fry over a moderate heat until nice and brown. Season with a bit of salt to taste (keeping in mind the bacon is already a bit salty).
Gently heat the milk, clove, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme in a pot. Chop the onion into small pieces and roughly smash the garlic with the back of your knife. Gently cook the onion and garlic in a pot with the butter for about 4-5 mins until softened but not brown. Pour the hot milk mix on top of the onions and garlic and simmer gently for 10mins to infuse the flavours. Strain the flavoured milk into a pot, discard the onions and herbs etc and add the bread to the milk mix. Simmer for 3-4mins. Blend with a stick blender until smooth or leave chunky for a rustic sauce. Season with a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the crispy confit duck with the Brussel sprouts and bread sauce piping hot along with some nice fruit or fig chutney.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/
Since it is now Duck shooting season, here is a wee bonus recipe utilizing the whole duck and which can be done easily at home. Be sure not to cook the duck longer than you need to or it can dry out.. This is a great opportunity to use your Dutch oven if you have one and it will yield great results as they retain the heat and moisture really well. My recipe for Duck Confit can be found in the July/August edition of NZ Guns & Hunting magazine and keep an eye out in the next edition for tips on how to pluck and dress your duck.
Whole roast duck with cranberry, bacon and walnut stuffing
Here is an easy recipe that uses the whole duck but can be adapted to use for any roasting bird.
plucked, cleaned and gutted
2 Stale Bread Rolls
1 Shallot or ¼ Onion
1 Clove Garlic
1Tbs Dried Cranberries (can substitute chopped dried apricots)
1Tbs Walnut Pieces
1Tsp Dried Mixed Herbs
1 Small Bunch Parsley (leaves only)
2 Rashers of Bacon
Salt and Pepper
Roughly chop up the garlic, shallot and bacon. In a food processor pulse these three ingredients together then add the bread and parsley and pulse until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the cranberries, walnuts and the egg along with some salt and pepper and mix for 5-10 seconds until it has come together. Stuff the duck’s cavity with the stuffing mix and secure the hole with a toothpick. Season the outside of the bird with some salt and bake in a preheated oven at 160C for 1.5-2hrs (depending on the size of your bird) or until the leg meat is tender and the skin is golden and crispy. If the duck is getting too brown but is not cooked to your liking you can cover it with tinfoil to stop it from burning. If you are concerned about the breasts drying out you can insert a rasher of bacon under the skin on top of each of the breasts. Save the duck fat for roasting your potatoes.
Peel your potatoes (Agria potatoes are nice here) and cook in a pot of salted cold water until they are about 80% cooked and are still a little bit firm in the centre. Drain and keep to one side. In a roasting tray place a few spoonfuls of duck fat and place the tray with the fat in it in a 200C oven until it is really hot, about 15mins. Being careful not to burn yourself tip the nearly cooked potatoes into the tray with the duck fat and shake the pan a little to coat the potatoes with fat and season with a little salt. Place back in the oven and roast until nice and crispy, about 20-30mins.
Once the duck is cooked cover with some tin foil or a tea towel and leave it to rest for 15mins before carving so the juices set and the meat has time to relax. You can’t go wrong serving it with a good bottle of Central Otago Pinot Noir.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/