Roast duck with mandarins and ginger

After more than twenty years of celebrating Christmas at home — in Berlin, in New York, in London, once upon a time just the two of us, and now, more often than not, with our gathered families — we may finally have found a Christmas meal tradition!

I cannot remember ever making the same meal twice for Christmas day. We’ve had goose stuffed with apples and sage, ham, venison gulash, beef Wellington, even lamb shoulders. Nothing sticks.

And though we’ve experimented with all sorts, I especially like the idea of a bird. I love goose, but I am wary of the endless jugs of fat that ultimately need collecting and filtering and jarring and storing… Turkey is instantly disqualified as there was turkey for Thanksgiving, and that seems plenty ’til next year. And so duck. It seems an obvious choice, and if we’ve not had it before (or, at least, not repeatedly) it must be because it wasn’t the perfect recipe.

Finding that perfect meal for Christmas day, which comes at the tail end of a stream of feasting since October, has been tricky, when the temptation is strong to do little else but eat Stollen all day and leaf, play, and puzzle through the Christmas gifts. The day warrants something special — simple enough, but also outrageously delicious enough, to make us want to cook again. This is it!

***** *** ***** *** ***** *** *****

Roast duck with mandarins and ginger recipe, slightly adapted from David Tanis in the NY Times
Notes: This recipe has an overnight rest, but it is also possible to do everything in one go, as we did this year.
For two ducks we doubled all the ingredients except the glaze, of which we made just the amount suggested here. It was plenty.

For the duck:

One duck (approximately 2.5kg) without neck and giblets (reserve for another use)
3 Tbsps Maldon or coarse grey sea salt
1 Tbsp homemade 5-spice powder (see recipe below)
Zest from a couple of oranges or mandarins (see ingredients for the glaze)
2 whole mandarins
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp grated garlic

For the glaze

1 1/2 cups juiced oranges or mandarins (and their zest, see above)
1 Tbsps honey
3 Tbsps soy sauce
5-cm (2-inch) piece of ginger, thickly sliced
3 star anise

Pat the duck dry and remove any excess fat from the cavirty and trim a bit of the flappy neck skin. Prick the skin of the duck all over with a sharp knife tip, taking care not to poke into the flesh. (It’s not as hard as it sounds!)

Mix together the salt and 5-spice mix and use it to season the interior as well as the exterior of the duck by taking small handfulls and rubbing it all over, inside and out.

Combine the zest from the juiced oranges (or mandarins), with the grated ginger and garlic and rub this inside the duck cavity. Cut the 2 whole mandarins into quarters, and place the quarters into the duck cavity. Tie the legs together and skewer the neck flap into place (with a skewer or toothpick). Place the duck on a rack in a roasting tin breast side up and refrigerate overnight. Alternatively, continue immediately.

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Meanwhile make the glaze and take the duck out of the refrigerator (if applicable) to come to room temperature.

To make the glaze: Bring the orange (or mandarin) juice, honey, and soy sauce to a simmer. Add the sliced ginger and star anise and simmer gently until the mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Roast the duck at 220C (425F) for 20 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 150C (300F), turn the duck over (breast side down), and roast for a further one and a half hours, turning and basting the duck every half hour. After one and a half hours, turn the duck breast side up again, paint it with the glaze and roast for another 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove the duck from the oven and let it rest, covered with aluminum foil, for about 20 minutes before carving and serving. Meanwhile pour and strain the juices from the roasting tray and reheat until piping hot to serve over the duck.

The duck goes particularly well with mashed celeriac with parsley, and a spoonful of cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving.

***** *** ***** *** ***** *** *****

5-spice mix
(Yields about 3 tablespoons)

1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cloves
6 star anise
5-cm (2-inch) cinnamon stick
12 allspice berries
Grind all the spices in a spice grinder to a fine powder.
Store in a small glass jar.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: