This process results in unctuous duck meat at the expense of some crispness to the skin. To create a steamer, set a metal rack at the bottom of a covered poultry roaster. Or improvise, setting some ceramic ramekins or wads of aluminum foil at the bottom of a heavy Dutch oven to keep the duck out of the water.
Cover your pot with foil and even a layer of parchment paper to create a tight seal while the bird steams. After the duck has rendered much of its fat in the steam bath, it is roasted in the oven and basted with a honey-infused glaze to create a deep, brown skin. Serve with Madeira Sauce.
The cooking method precludes accurate nutritional analysis.
- 1 (80 ounces) Pekin duck
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 stalk celery, leafy top only
- 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1/2 small onion, cut into several pieces
- 3 whole cloves garlic
- 1 small bunch thyme
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
Remove the fat from the cavity of the duck. Rinse the duck under cool running water and pat it dry with paper towels. Using the tines of a fork or the tip of a sharp paring knife, prick the duck all over, being careful to puncture only the skin, not the meat.
In a small bowl, combine the salt and pepper. Sprinkle it into the cavity and over the surface of the duck. Set aside 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme. Place the celery, carrot, onion, garlic and the remainder of the bunch of thyme in the cavity.
Place the duck, breast side up, in the steamer you've created. Pour about 1 inch of water into the pot, cover the pan tightly and steam over medium heat for 1 hour. The skin should be tender.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Have ready a wire rack placed inside a roasting pan.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the wine, vinegar, honey and chopped thyme, stirring occasionally, until the honey is fully incorporated. Remove from the heat.
Carefully uncover the steamer. Using a sturdy wooden spoon stuck in the cavity and a large metal spatula beneath the duck, transfer the bird to the wire rack in the roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and brush the bird all over with some of the wine-honey mixture. Baste repeatedly with more of the mixture every few minutes, for 15 minutes, or until the skin is a dark mahogany brown and the meat is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh meat should register 180 degrees). You should have about half of the basting liquid left. Carefully transfer the duck to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Meanwhile, return the pan with the remaining wine-honey mixture to medium heat and simmer for a few minutes. To serve, drizzle the warmed sauce over the carved pieces of duck, or pass on the side.
Adapted from the one championed by Alice Waters in "Chez Panisse Cooking" (Random House, 1994).
Tested by Michael Taylor.
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