Autumn Roast Duck
Serving Size: Half Duck
Preparation Time: 2—3 hours
The Apple Mirepoix
- 4 large Golden delicious apples, Eastern, peeled, cored,
sliced, reserved for garnish
- 4 large Golden Delicious apples, Eastern, peeled and
- 1 large onion peeled and chopped
- 2 large carrots chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 1/2 cup tomato purée
- duck giblets—chopped
- 1 cup cake flour.
- 4 (4 lb) ducklings—scalded and air dried
- 4 tbs dark soy sauce—Mushroom Soy
- 2 large pomegranates—for garnish
- 2 large pomegranates—for juice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup wine vinegar
- duck fat in the roast pan
- 3 quarts Brown Stock
- 1 bottle red Zinfandel wine
- 3 large pomegranates—for juice
- 1 large pomegranate--for garnish
- 1/4 cup grenadine syrup or currant jelly or to taste
- 2 lemons for juice if needed
- cornstarch and water or wine—to finish thickening
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup clear duck fat
- reserved apple slices
- 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 cup brandy or rum—to flame. Optional.
- Peel core and slice 4 Golden Delicious Apples. Save the slices
under water. Chop up 2 more apples, add all the apple debris in a
roast pan with chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato
purée, duck giblets. Dust with flour.
Scald the ducks with boiling water, inside and out, and air dry.
This helps the skin to crisp.
Place ducks on the bed of floured mirepoix, and rub with
Mushroom Soy or Kitchen Bouquet. Roast at 425 degrees F for about
an hour, or until duck is nice and brown, but UNDERDONE. Pour off
all the duck fat you can and save it.
- Peel open the pomegranates. Save enough of the best looking
seeds to use as garnish, about 2 cups. Juice the rest and save the
juice. To juice, put the seeds in a strainer over a bowl, and press
them well. Do this while the ducks are roasting.
- Remove duck, cool it, and as soon as you can handle it, split
and quarter the duck. Remove wings, breast bones, backbones and any
other duck bones or debris you can find. Return all these trimmings
to the pan on top of mirepoix. Roast until duck bones and flour
brown. Scrape the contents of the roast pan to one side. Keep the
breasts, legs and thighs warm.
Now prepare the gastric. Put the roast pan on the stove top, and
heat some reserved duck fat on a clear spot. Add 1/2 cup sugar and
let cook until light brown. with great care (it may splatter; very
hot stuff) add 1/2 c red wine vinegar to dissolve the caramel you
have made. This is a gastric. It is used to color and flavor sweet
and sour sauces.
- You have in the pan: a dark mirepoix with apple debris, browned
flour and duck fat (a brown roux), a gastric, and the duck
carcasses, all nice and roasted. Scrape everything into a large
pot. Deglaze the roast pan by adding some brown stock, bring it to
the boil and scrape with a wooden spoon, to get as much of the
flavor as you can.
Add brown stock to cover, and simmer for an hour. This makes the
apple flavored sweet and sour duck stock. Let the duck stock stand
for a while so the fat rises. Defat the duck stock and strain
- Reduce to 1 quart or so.Add fresh pomegranate juice and 2 cups
of red wine. Reduce this back to one quart. It should be medium
consistency with no fat free on the top. You can use cornstarch and
wine to thicken it to desired consistency, but boil it well after
adding cornstarch. The sauce only need be thick enough to coat a
- Taste and first bring up the salt level. Then taste for sour.
Bring up sour level with lemon juice, or make a little extra
gastric in a pan. Does the sauce have a taste of pomegranate? If
not, reduce some pomegranate juice and add to the sauce. If the
pomegranate and sour taste are OK, then use some grenadine or
currant jelly to sweeten it to get a balance of sweet and sour.
Now check the color.You can darken the color with mushroom soy
or Kitchen Bouquet, if need be. The sauce should be the same color
as the roasted duck, and taste strongly of duck, pomegranate, sweet
and sour. It should be completely free of any grease.
- Now place the reserved semi-boned duck in a 400 degree oven to
heat and crisp. This will finish the cooking, which is why you
wanted to keep them underdone. (I like the breasts rosy, so for
myself I put the leg quarters in, and 5 min later the
- While the duck is heating, sauté the drained apple
slices in clear duck fat. The fat should almost smoke before adding
the apples. Don't add too many to the pan at once as you want the
apples to take color. When you see the first signs of color,
sprinkle the apple slices with sugar, and as soon as the sugar
begins to caramelize, add a touch of water and pomegranate juice
(take care not to splatter) to make the apples glace. Glace = iced,
like glaze. Do this in batches if your pan is not large enough. The
apples should be hot and shiny, but still a little crisp in the
Make a ring of glace apples around the outside of the serving
dish. Put a pool of the hot sweet and sour pomegranate duck sauce
in the center well.
Take the hot duck from the oven. Its skin is sizzling, so blot
away fat with a clean towel. Place it on the sauce. Put a stripe of
the sauce over the ducks. Sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
Serve extra sauce in a gravy boat.
Serves 8. Takes about 2-3 hours work.
To flame the duck. Pour the liquor into a cold copper
sauté pan. Heat brandy or rum in a copper sauté pan
over a rechaud (tableside gas fire) at the table. Tilt pan as
brandy begins to boil, so that fumes light the brandy in the pan.
Pouf! then pour over the duck on the platter. (Take care when doing
this, as the brandy ignition may startle you into jerking away,
which spills the flaming brandy over you instead of the duck and
ruins the whole effect. This is an optional step.)
If you can find some very red sweet potatoes, they can be baked
and served with this dish. In Shanghai, the ones served by street
vendors were the best I ever ate. Small individual Chinese green
cabbages, Ching Choy, or broccoli rabe are good with this dish.
Blanch them in boiling water, and sauté in a little duck fat
to serve them green and crisp.
The duck fat you saved is good on bread, like butter, and bread
fried in duck fat is a wonderful taste.
To summarize the idea of the sauce:
- Brown Roux (the mirepoix and apple debris and flour
sauté in duck fat) + Estoufade = Sauce Espagnole (duck and
- Sauce Espagnole + Gastric (Sugar caramelized in duckfat + red
wine vinegar) + Pomegranate Juice + Red Wine and Currant Jelly) =
Apple-Pomegranate (sweet and sour) Sauce. The red jelly and
pomegranate juice take the place of tomatoes in this sauce.
This is very similar in concept to the way Duckling Bigarrade is
made, except that in this sauce the major flavor accent is of
apples and pomegranate, which were in season in Shanghai when this
recipe was made.
Suggested Wine: MouTai
Note on wine: A sweet red Chinese wine was
originally used which is not obtainable in the US A red Zinfandel
wine may be substituted with the addition of some currant jelly. It
is difficult to suggest a wine with a sweet and sour duck. Sour
flavors and wine don't work well together. It would be more
appropriate to serve MouTai or Wu Liang Yeh, Chinese Sorghum Wine.
It is served in small cups and packs a big wallop! "Gombie!" or
"Bottoms Up" is the toast given.
Notes: This recipe was prepared as a
presentation given to the kitchen staff of the Park Hotel,
Shanghai, on Western Cooking, by the author. The author was
proposing a culinary fusion of Classical Western Cuisine and
Chinese ingredients, and was given in the Autumn of 1987. It is
made on the model of Roast Duckling Bigarrade. Chinese Ducks are
less fatty than the Pekin Duck (originally from China). This recipe
may at first look complex, but it is not difficult. Take it one
step at a time, and you will see that you are just building the
final brown sauce which is why it is given here.
Steve's #21 Recipes
The Five Grande Sauces
- Sauce Espagnole
- Sauce Diable for Grilled Pork
- Beef Sweetbreads in Mushroom Sauce
- Chicken Stew Chasseur*
- Braised Brisket of Beef
- Fillet de Beouf aux Morilles
- Autumn Roast Duck
- Brown Stock—Estouffade*
- Court Bouillon*
*Repeated from a previous article
©1996, Steve K. Holzinger. All rights reserved.
This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007