I am not going to lie and say roasting a duck is as easy as roasting a chicken. It isn’t quite as easy as that, but it’s not rocket science. To begin with, I do an overnight dry brining, just as I do with a whole chicken. Opinions vary about brining duck, but I find an overnight rest in a dry seasoning mixture helps keep the meat moist and is an easy way to flavor the bird all the way through.
The dry brining process is simply a rub of salt, sugar and any optional flavoring of your choice. It is as simple as that. While a rub of just salt and sugar will result in a classic roast duck with crisp skin, duck lends itself well to a variety of seasonings. The duck you see here in these photos was lightly scented with Chinese five-spice powder and a bit of dried tangerine peel added to the salt & sugar rub before placing it in a zip-lock bag and refrigerating it overnight. Any herb, spice or fruit essence that suits your menu may be used.
A typical 5-6 lb. supermarket duck will generally feed two people, but don’t toss the carcass and wings out. I refrigerate the carcass and turn it into a terrific stock the following day. Hang on to that rendered duck fat, too. Strain it into a jar,cover and refrigerate until needed to make amazing roast potatoes or potato pancakes.
2 tsp salt
2 tsp white sugar
½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder (optional)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 5-6 lb duck, thawed, rinsed and dried well
The night before serving, rub the thawed, rinsed and dried duck all over inside and out, with the dry seasoning mixture. Slide the duck into a zip-lock plastic bag, place on a tray and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove the duck form the bag. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Place the garlic cloves inside the cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine (helps the duck cook evenly and keeps the garlic inside).
Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and roast the duck, breast side up for 30 minutes. Turn duck over, and roast 30 minutes more. Turn duck over once more (breast side up again) and continue to roast the duck until skin is brown and crisp, about 40-45 minutes more, or until internal temperature taken with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F.
Transfer duck to a cutting board and let stand 15 minutes before carving. Serves 2.