Look out chicken, there's a new bird in town!
I absolutely love roasted duck. It is by far my favorite poultry. It is rich, fatty, and loaded with flavor. Some of you might think it's nuts, but no bird has skin like a duck; and when it's perfectly crisped, there is no greater culinary pleasure--in my humble opinion. And, as a sweet bonus, a duck yields quite a bit of duck fat which is one of my favorite cooking fats--hello duck fat veggies!!!
When thinking of roast duck, most people think of Duck a l'Orange. I personally don't like orange; however, duck being such a rich meat, it is best when served with something to cut through that richness. Up until this recipe, I was eating duck simply herbed and roasted--which was delicious, but rich. That's when the idea for the Spiced Cherry-Citrus Compote was born (compote is just a fancy word for fruit cooked in syrup--of course, no syrup for us Paleolithic eaters).
This main dish has a very "Holiday-ish" feel to it (yeah, I just made that word up), so for those of you culinary rebels out there, it would be a great alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and cranberry sauce, or Christmas ham!
This dish is a favorite in our home, and I'm sure it will be for your's as well!
Crispy Skinned Roast Duck
*Note: I have kept the seasonings very simple for this dish so as not to clash with the compote, however, duck is delicious with several types of herbs. Get creative!
1 4-5lb Duck
Salt & Pepper
Preheat the oven to 275*F. Remove all gizzards from the duck and save (duck gizzards are delicious cooked up with some onions). Drain excess juices from the duck and rinse. Place duck breast side up on a rack inside of a deep roasting pan (you need to elevate the duck so the fat drips to the bottom and is easier to drain for saving). Score the skin of the duck with a knife. This is just slicing into the skin a bit which allows the fat to be released. Then lightly salt and pepper the duck. Some recipes will tell you to cut off the excess fatty skin at the neck--NO WAY! That's my favorite part! Also, you do not need to add any fat or oil to the duck as it is fatty enough.
Place the duck in the oven uncovered. You will cook the duck for a total of 4hrs-4hrs 15min, depending on the size of the bird. You will need to flip the bird every hour, ending breast side up for the final 15 minutes of cooking (that's a total of 4 flips). My oven cooks things quickly, so I do my final flip at 3hrs & 45min and cook breast side up for the final 15, making a total of 4hrs. If you are nervous about under/over cooking, you can always use a meat thermometer. For whole birds, check the meat where the thigh meets the leg, as this is the last portion of the bird to cook. The bird should be at 160* when you remove it from the oven, as it will continue to cook up to 165* outside of the oven. When the duck is done, remove from the oven and let it set for 15 minutes uncovered before carving so it will retain the juices. Skin should be crispy--and irresistible--and the bottom of the pan should be full of fat!
Once the bird has rested, remove it from the pan. This makes pouring out the fat easier. Pour fat through a strainer into a container (I usually just use a coffee mug or tumbler glass). Store fat in the refrigerator. Duck fat is great for veggies, and for roasting/baking chicken.
Spiced Cherry-Citrus Compote
Approximately 2 cups of pitted cherries (I use frozen as they are more convenient, just thaw them out first for quicker cooking)
2 Tbs ghee (I prefer Omghee's brand available online)
Zest of 1 grapefruit
Juice of 1 grapefruit
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Put all ingredients into a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Mix them well, and allow to cook slowly until cherries break down, stirring frequently. You can speed up this process by turning up the heat a bit and smashing the cherries as they cook; however, you must watch it closely so as not to burn it. I recommend starting the sauce at the last hour the duck is cooking. This allows plenty of time to for the cherries to break down at the lower heat. Once the compote has thickened and the cherries have broken down, remove the pan from the heat.
I love serving this dish with cauliflower mash and a side of Kale, or green beans if you include those as part of your diet. You can place the compote in a small dish on the side, or if you're like me, you can drown your poor duck in it.