Cooking a duck for the first time may require a legal eagle by the end of the process.
A week before Christmas Day in 2014, I bought a frozen duck.
Purchased Sir Duck mostly because he was on special (i.e. cheap), certainly not because I knew what I’d be doing with it. Never cooked a duck in my life, but there’s always a first time for these exciting adventures.
NAMING OF THE DUCK
One of our friends, Susan, decided Sir Duck needed a name. As a consequence, he was dubbed Cyril. A slightly unfortunate name really, because that’s my grandfather’s name. Fortunately grandfather Cyril is deceased, which is just as well or he might be having conniptions reading this.
Cyril sat in the freezer for quite some time, despite Susan and Gregoire giving me the odd verbal prod as to which method of cooking I’d be using. I had absolutely no idea. Even reading up about it required time and energy I didn’t have.
While both my brothers are talented chefs, sadly that’s not a talent that’s been passed onto me. I’m quite passionate about cooking – you only have to count my cookbooks to see that – but I rarely cook these days and mostly succumb to very simple meals.
With the advent of retirement, I thought “yippee, I can cook to my heart’s delight”. Good theory. Now the problem is not so much time, but that I don’t have a decent kitchen due to travelling around so much. An oven is a rare commodity indeed. Added to the complexity, I only have rudimentary ingredients most of the time.
But I deviate from Cyril.
It’s now early February 2015 and we’re heading off overseas in a couple of weeks. Cyril MUST be eaten as we’re shutting down the fridge and freezer, rather than leave it on and pay lots of money to the electricity company. One of my pet hates are electricity and water companies – if you want to be blatantly ripped off, they’re very good at it.
I decide to roast Cyril using whatever ingredients I have to hand. No point buying anything fancy given the departure date is looming fast.
First stop is a scan across the internet for the most proper cooking method. Some recipes are remarkably complex using 753 ingredients, but most recipes call for a drying of the duck, a toss of salt and pepper and into the oven. I can do that.
THE COOKING OF CYRIL
Cyril is removed from his packaging and I’m a bit shocked to see the rather l-o-n-g neck poking out. Chickens don’t have long necks poking out but ducks obviously do. For some reason, this is a surprise.
He’s patted down with a paper towel to dry out his skin as apparently this makes him nice and crisp.
However, Cyril doesn’t look dry enough after his pat down, so I fished out the hairdryer and gave him a good going over on a warm heat. This seems to do the trick. The skin should be seriously crispy now.
He’s placed on a roasting tray, seasoned with salt and pepper, and I check to ensure the vent end of our duck is open to allow for even cooking.
Into the pre-heated oven he goes. He has to be roasted “for 40 mins per kg until golden brown” then removed from the oven and left to rest for 20 minutes.
I weigh and measure and calculate, and do exactly as I’m told. I even cook the potatoes and pumpkin in the electric frypan to ensure I don’t disturb Cyril’s cooking temperature. Oh no, you can’t accuse me of being a non-caring Meandering Duck. I look after my own kind.
DUCK EATING TIME
Cyril’s skin looks nice and crispy – I figure the hairdryer trick worked well. He’s had his 20 minute rest before devouration begins.
Our mouths are watering, he smells pretty darned fine. I do note, however, he’s a lot smaller cooked than when he was raw.
It’s time to eat the duck.
There’s not a lot of meat on a duck is there. Almost had to get out the microscope to find where it was.
Sadly, Cyril is tough and dry despite the special gravy I have miraculously produced. What a disappointment. Perhaps I’ve done something wrong to have him turn out such a tough ol’ bugger. Maybe he had an aversion to the hairdryer.
Really not happy with Cyril, he smelled so good while cooking. I’m feeling I need to sue on the grounds of ‘Inappropriate Tough Duck’ or ‘Excess Chewing Required Leading to Sore Jaw’ or ‘Lack of Juicy Meat on Duck’. Are there any good duck lawyers out there?
The potatoes were nice though.