Autumn Roast Duck

Serving Size: Half Duck
Serves: 8
Preparation Time: 2—3 hours

The Apple Mirepoix
The Gastric
The Sauce
The Garnish
  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4. 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 it.

  5. 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 spoon.
  6. 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.

  7. 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 breasts.)
  8. 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 center.

    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:

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