Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spice Steamed Duck with Cranberry-Chipotle Glaze

Happy Thanksgiving! It was a wonderful day, I woke up, cooked, ate, cooked, ate, cooked, ate, ate and now I’m thinking of fixing myself a drink. Beethoven’s been on the radio all day, and my parents have been great company. The meal was quite non-traditional, but I tried to include some Thanksgiving flavors (cranberry, apple, cinnamon, clove), and, while it wasn’t perfect (it’s never perfect), I have to say I was very happy with how everything turned out. The first post will be on the bird, then the cranberry sauce, followed by the empanadas, and finally a note on Jean Georges Vongerichten, whose new cookbook was my source for today’s breakfast, dessert, and snack recipes.

So, the duck. This method for cooking duck is from Mark Bittman’s fantastic How To Cook Everything. The bird is poked all over with small holes, then steamed with spices in the steaming water, and then glazed and roasted, resulting in flavorful and tender meat. A lot of the fat cooks off in the steaming, although there was still plenty of fat left on the bird (we ate around it, mostly).

I believe I made the following mistakes: 1.) the duck wasn’t far enough away from the boiling water during the steaming (i.e. the roasting rack wasn’t high enough), so parts of the bird were actually submerged in the water, causing meat and skin to fall off, 2.) The holes I poked in the skin weren’t deep enough, 3.) There wasn’t enough salt on the bird (these last two reasons probably both contributed to the lack of crispyness). Still – yum. Duck is hard to screw up, and the flavor combinations from the spice-steam and the glaze were very nice.

Spice Steamed Duck with Cranberry-Chipotle Glaze

10 whole pieces star anise (or enough broken pieces to make up 10 whole)
25 pods green cardamom
2 sticks cinnamon
20 cloves
1 4 ½ pound duck
1 recipe Cranbery-Chipolte Glaze (see above)

1.) In a medium skillet, toast the spices over medium-high heat until they are browned and fragrant. Grind the spices into a powder using a spice grinder (i.e. a coffee grinder which you only use for spices), a mortar and pestle, or improvised grinding tools (I used a cast iron pan and an ice cream scoop).

2.) Remove any giblets from inside the duck, cut off any excess fat, and, using the point of a sharp knife, prick the skin all over with small holes, being careful not to pierce the meat (which is about ¼ inch from the surface of the bird).

3.) In the bottom of a roasting pan, combine the spices and enough water to fill the pan up 1 to 2 inches.

4.) Place a rack in the pan, then place the duck on the rack, breast side up. Cover and set the pan over two burners, both on high.

5.) Put a kettle of water up to boil. When the water in the roasting pan gets low, replace it with boiling water, then put another kettle up. Continue this process for 45 minutes, then remove the duck from the heat and let rest for at least 15 minutes.

6.) Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the duck, breast side down, on a rack in the roasting pan. Brush all over with the glaze.

7.) Roast 15 minutes, brush with glaze, flip it over, brush again with glaze, then raise the heat to 425°. Roast another 15 minutes. Carve and serve with the leftover glaze in a serving pitcher.

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