Saturday gone was the birthday of the lovely Lauren - she had asked for something special for dinner (accompanied by special wine!) and specified something she had not had before. It came down to two options - rack of lamb and roast duck. Well, I found a whole duck for $20 at Island Bay New World so that was that. I trawled the internet for a recipe as I had been told to be very careful about roasting a whole duck as often the breast can be tough by the time the legs are cooked through.
After google-ing 'whole roast duck' and reading through the top few recipes I settled on this one by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of my food heroes but adapted a couple of other techniques from the others - especially from this one by The Hungry Mouse.
Heat oven to 220 degrees C.
I started by taking one whole duck and removing the excess fat, wing tips and neck. Finely chop and sautee 1/2 a carrot, 1/2 a brown onion and 1/2 a celery stick; when translucent chop and add the duck neck and wing tips and any other duck parts you have lying around (like the gizzards). Add 3 cups of water and simmer for the next two hours (or until duck is cooked).
Then take a needle or skewer and prick the duck all over its body but especially where the leg meets the body. Place in a large colander (or hold) and pour boiling water all over the duck - again pay especial attention to the join between the leg and body,.
Season inside the duck with salt and pepper and place breast side up on a roasting dish. Put in oven for 20 minutes. After this time take the duck out, turn it and return to oven - turn oven down to 175 degrees C. I don't know the science but cooking the duck breast side down seems to help it remain moist (maybe because the duck is sitting in duck-fat).
After 45 minutes take duck out and with a ladle remove about 1/2 cup of duck fat. Add this to a second roasting dish with chopped potatoes. Put the potatoes above the duck.
After another 25 minutes take duck out and poke between the leg and body with a skewer - if juices run clear remove from oven and keep warm. If still pink leave in oven for another 15 minutes. Once removed turn oven back up to 220 degrees C.
Allow roasting dish to cool and then drain off fat. Put on element at medium heat and allow duck juices and the baked on juices to start bubbling. De-glaze with 1/2 cup of red or white wine and then strain duck stock from earlier into dish. Bring to a high heat and allow to reduce until desired thickness (what a effing shitty recipe instruction but lets face it, we all like our sauce a different texture - I don't go for full on, caramelized jus but you may want to or you may also want to leave it to be thinner so it can be mopped up by the spuds).
By this time the spuds will be done - golden, crispy and ducky. Take these out of the oven. Serve! We had these with some fresh steamed green beans and a bottle of 2007 Comte de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny (still too young).