This recipe results in a well-done bird with crisp skin and meat that almost falls off the bones. It involves four hours of cooking time -- the first two at a low temperature to fully render the fat -- as well as turning the bird a couple of times to brown it all the way around.
No roasting rack is required for this treatment, and the duck does not suffer for it.
- One 5-pound Pekin duck
- Freshly ground black pepper
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-third position.
Remove the fat from the cavity of the duck. Rinse the duck under cool running water and pat it dry with paper towels. Thoroughly season the duck with salt and pepper to taste. Place the duck, breast side up, in a large skillet or roasting pan and place in an unheated oven. Turn the temperature to 300 degrees.
After 1 hour, remove the pan from the oven. Carefully remove any accumulated fat from the roasting pan, leaving any juices behind. (If the juices have caramelized in the pan and threaten to burn, add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Replenish the water to maintain an even low level throughout the cooking process.) Turn the duck, breast side down, and roast for 1 more hour.
Turn the duck breast side up, increase the heat to 350 degrees and roast for about 2 hours, until the skin is well-browned and crisp and the legs wiggle easily in their joints. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh meat should register 180 degrees. Transfer the duck to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and set aside to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Aapted from "The Duck Cookbook," by James Peterson (Stewart Taboori & Chang, 2003).
Tested by Hal Mehlman.
Email questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.