As soon as I read the recipe for Ssam Bar's rotisserie duck in the latest issue of Lucky Peach magazine, I knew I had to make it. It is Christmas Eve and we are celebrating my Christmas baby's birthday. This duck was not Maggie's first choice for her birthday dinner, but we made an agreement and she will have two birthday dinners. The first one, being her first choice, was had on Christmas Eve Eve: steak with entrecote sauce and pomme frites. This duck, or as it is coined in Lucky Peach, a Chinese Turkey, is really my choice. Gosh I hope it doesn't go south.
The recipe gives you the option of cooking the duck either over a charcoal grill on a rotisserie, or roasting it in the oven. The weather being what it is, and the larger issue that we don't actually have a rotisserie attachment for our charcoal grill, leaves me with the oven roasting option.
For the duck:
2 whole ducks, about 4 lbs each
2 cups maltose
1/2 cup soy sauce
For the duck sausage:
1 lb duck leg meat (3-4 duck legs, meaning legs and thighs)
1/2 cup duck fat, cold
3/4 cup pork fatback, diced, cold
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground star anise
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup sake, cold
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon nonfat milk powder
1 tablespoon pink salt (aka curing salt, goto Amazon.com)
For the complete detailed recipe, you'll have to get your hands on a copy of the Fall 2012 issue of Lucky Peach. Here's an abbreviated version.
Butcher the ducks by removing the wing tips, removing the legs, and cutting off the backbone where it meets the rib cage. The result is called a the crown.
De-bone the legs, cut the meat into chunks and place in the freezer while you get the rest of the sausage ingredients.
Make the sausage by combining all of the ingredients in a large food processor and puree until smooth.
Blanche the ducks in a large stockpot of boiling salted water. Dip the ducks into the boiling water for 10 seconds, cool in a large bath of ice water, repeat three times. Place the ducks onto a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.
To stuff the duck with the sausage, use your fingers to separate the skin from the flesh. Start at the neck opening and be careful not to tear the skin... as I did on one of the ducks. Bummer!
Use a pastry bag to pipe as much of the sausage to fill each pocket without bursting it.
To glaze the ducks, heat the maltose and soy sauce over low heat until it is runny. Brush each of the ducks all over with the maltose. Let rest 15 minutes, repeat.
Put the ducks in the fridge for 2-5 days. This will dry out the skin and help in making a crispy duck.
To oven roast, heat the oven to 475f. Put ducks on a roasting rack and sprinkle with kosher salt. Arrange the ducks with enough space between the two so plenty of heat can circulate around them and bake for 50 minutes. The actual recipe calls for roasting the ducks separately. I'm sure there must be good reason for this? But I don't have the time or patience for this, so together they go into the oven.
Let the ducks rest for 10 minutes before carving. Remove the breasts and thinly slice crosswise. Serve with butter lettuce, hoisin sauce, and rice.
Again in the craziness of getting dinner served, I failed to photograph the ducks once they came out of the oven, before carving. They were quite beautiful and crispy.