If you want to enjoy a great roasted duck, you either call a Chinese restaurant and order a whole Peking duck for take-out, or you roast one yourself at home. The trick to a superb Christmas duck is to put it in the cold oven, an old, famous Danish recipe, which originally did not include alcohol. We enjoyed our Austrian duck roasted like this every year, and to this day, I have not changed a thing.
As so often, the simpler the recipe, the greater the success.
All it takes:
3 apples, peeled, cored and cut in wedges
10 dried prunes, pitted and halved
Cornstarch or ice-cold butter for the gravy (Keep it gluten-free)
and a little bit of love
Cover the prunes with cognac and let them get tipsy for a few hours (optional but highly recommended.)
Rinse the duck thoroughly, inside and out, pat it dry with paper towels. Season the duck inside and out with salt and pepper.
Mix the apples and the tipsy prunes, tuck the skin or sew the openings shut. (If you are lazy like me, use toothpicks or a small skewer).
Place the duck, breast-side down on a wire rack in the cold oven and set the temperature to 160 C (325F) top and bottom heat. After 45 minutes, remove the duck fat from the baking rack (do not throw it out, but pour it in an old jar or cup) add a cup of water into the baking rack, and put the rack back in the oven. Turn the duck over and bake for another two hours. In the last ten minutes, set the stove to 250C (450 F) but leave the stove door ajar.
Take the duck out of the oven, set it on a cutting board, and let it rest before carving. Degrease the gravy drippings, add 2 tsp duck fat, and season with red wine, cognac, salt, and pepper to taste. If necessary, bind with cornstarch or flakes of ice-cold butter you want it creamy not thick.
Serve with Red Cabbage (homemade please) and preferably potato dumplings.
I would recommend a nice glass of cognac after dinner!
Forget the orange duck or the honey duck, and all the other wonderful ingredients that are so often wasted on duck. Duck is game meat, and you want to enjoy the taste of the meat and not overpower it.