6-11: Chinese Duck

Here’s a first for me: I’ve never attempted to break down a duck before this recipe, 6-11: Chinese Duck. I’ve cooked with duck a handful of times, but this is definitely the most involved with it that I’ve ever gotten. There’s one more duck recipe in this book, so expect a return sometime in the future.

I found myself with a duck after my husband took a trip past a local butcher a few weeks ago, so I decided to take a stab at one of the two recipes in the book. I assumed this would be similar to the Chinese dish Peking duck, and in true Simply Delicious style, it doesn’t quite come as close as recipes today can get you.

I’m going to tell you right now: I don’t like the way this recipe has you brown the duck. They don’t make it clear that you need HIGH heat to render that layer of fat on the outside of the duck. If you don’t get that outside crispy, the whole thing ends up soggy and squishy, and a waste of good duck fat. Take that into consideration when prepping for/cooking this recipe.

Ingredients. I had a 4.5 lb duck, completely whole and now defrosted. I used Chinese/dark soy sauce to give it a bit more flavor and used honey instead of granulated sugar because I thought it’d make a nicer-tasting glaze.

I’m not going to show you the gory pictures of me hacking apart this poor duck. Instead, I’ll show you the pieces I got off of it, which is 10 times nicer than the former, trust me.

And if you’re trying to do it yourself, here’s a better guide than I on how to butcher a duck.

Decided to use my cast-iron skilled to brown my duck pieces in, in an attempt to get somewhat of a crispy outside.

Browning the duck pieces, starting fat-side down. Cook it long enough for it to release on its own, usually 2-3 minutes a side.

Started with the smaller breast pieces, and then moved on to the larger leg/thigh pieces (which I neglected to separate).

Blurry picture of browned (but not fully cooked) duck pieces. Don’t be fooled by how brown these look–remember, they were sitting in dark soy sauce.

Deglazing the pan with the chicken broth to get those good juices & brown bits.

Returned the duck to the deglazed-and-now-full-of-sauce pan, covered it, and simmered it on the stove for 30 minutes or so to finish cooking the duck.

Practiced my twisty lemon garnishes while waiting for the duck to cook.

Duck leg after cooking, with a twisty lemon and sprinkle of parsley. The duck was pretty good as quasi-Chinese recipes go, but like I said in the beginning, make sure to get the outside nice and crispy in that first browning session, otherwise you’ll have a sad, soggy duck.

Grade: B