Rotisserie Duck with Pomegranate Glaze


This recipe, for Rotisserie Duck with Pomegranate Glaze, is a last minute improvisation. I planned to have a different post today, but it fell apart.
*Literally - salmon wouldn't stay on my rotisserie spit.  It kept tearing loose and dropping into the drip pan.

I went to my local farmers market, desperately searching for something to put on the rotisserie. Desperation turned into a inspiration. I noticed a small sign among the jars of honey on the Schmidt Family Farms table - "Muscovy duck for sale." Jackpot!

Muscovy has less fat than the typical Long Island duck sold at your local store. It also has more meat on the bones - the breast is much larger in a Muscovy. I was excited to find it; I wanted to try Muscovy on my rotisserie.

I bought some Schmidt Farms honey with the duck (I'm a sucker for local honey in cute little honey bears.) Honey plus pomegranate juice* became the base for my sauce. I looked through my copy of The Flavor Bible for ideas, and added lemon, ginger and thyme to round out the sauce. The fruity, citrusy, and sweet glaze was perfect with the Muscovy duck meat.
*The kind folks at POM Wonderful gave me the pomegranate juice.  Phew - now I'm good with the FTC.

I have to say up front - if you are a fan of medium-rare duck breast, you need to look elsewhere. Duck legs need to be well done to be tender; by the time the legs are edible, the breast meat will also be well done. That's OK - when it is cooked on the rotisserie, slowly basting in its own duck fat, well done meat tastes pretty darn good.
*I put fingerling potatoes in the pan under the duck, so they would cook in the dripping fat. Never let duck fat go to waste!

Recipe: Rotisserie Duck with Pomegranate Glaze

Equipment:
  • Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber Summit 650 with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here it is.)
  • Aluminum foil drip pan (9"x12", or whatever fits your grill)
  • Butcher's twine
Ingredients:
  • 1 whole duck, 4-6 pounds (mine was 4.5 pounds)
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
Stuffing
  • 1 lemon (use the lemon juice for the sauce, below)
Sauce
  • 8 ounces pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • thin slice of fresh ginger (about the size and thickness of a quarter)
  • 1 thyme sprig (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of fresh ground pepper
Directions:
Note: for an overview, see my rotisserie poultry basic technique post.

1. Dry Brine the Duck: 24 to 48 hours before you want to start cooking, salt the duck evenly - about 1/2 tsp on the breast, 1/2 tsp on the legs, 1/2 tsp on the back, 1/2 tsp in the cavity, and 1/2 tsp in the neck. Put the duck on a rack over a roasting pan or baking sheet, and store in the refrigerator, uncovered. This lets the skin dry, and gives the salt time to dry brine the duck.

2. Prep the duck: One hour before cooking, remove the duck from the refrigerator. Pat the duck dry with paper towels, then poke the skin on the breast and thighs all over with a paring knife, being careful not to pierce the meat. (I do this by coming at the duck from a very low angle, almost parallel to the skin.) Stuff the duck with the lemon halves. Finally, truss the duck, and skewer it on the rotisserie spit. Let it rest at room temperature while you prepare the grill.
*Trussing instructions (and a video!) are in my rotisserie poultry basic technique.

3. Prepare the grill: Set the grill up for rotisserie cooking at medium-high heat. For my Weber Summit, this means removing the grates, turning the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to high, and turning the infrared burner to high. Then I put my drip pan in the middle, over the unlit burners, and let the grill preheat for ten to fifteen minutes. After preheating, I turn all the lit burners down to medium-high, and I'm ready to cook. (See here for more rotisserie setup details.)

4. Make the sauce: While the grill is heating (or the duck is cooking), simmer all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan until reduced by half.

5. Cook the duck: Put the spit on the grill, and cook the duck with the lid closed for 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes (about 12 minutes per pound). Check the duck's temperature with an instant read thermometer; the duck is fully cooked when the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh is 175*F to 180*F. Once the duck is cooked through, baste it with the sauce to form a glaze. Brush the duck with the sauce, close the lid, cook for five minutes; brush the duck with the sauce again, then cook for another five minutes. Remove the duck from the spit onto a platter, remove the trussing twine from the duck, then brush the duck once more with the sauce. Let the duck rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
*Note: the duck in these pictures was done after 60 minutes of cooking. Make sure you start checking the temperature at the forty minute mark, and adjust your cooking time as appropriate.

6. Carve the duck: Cut off the wings and legs, separate the thighs from the drumsticks, and serve them bone in. Carve the breasts off the carcass and slice them 1/2" thick. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the remaining sauce over the duck. Serve.

Notes:
*Don't have a rotisserie? That's OK - set your grill up for cooking on indirect medium-high heat, as described in the recipe; then put the grate back on the grill, put the duck over the drip pan, breast side down, and cook for 30 minutes. Flip the duck breast side up and cook until done.

*Muscovy duck has a very strong taste - it tastes like dark meat poultry, only more so. As a fan of dark meat, I really, really loved it.  It also cooked very quickly; it was done on the short end of my cooking time when compared to a long island duck.  And you get more meat in the breast of the Muscovy duck.  But I think the legs of long island ducks taste better - the lean meat of the Muscovy does not come out as tender in the legs. I found it to be a tradeoff; more breast meat, with great taste, but not as good of leg meat.  I'm going to have to do more taste testing to figure out which one I prefer.
*Oh, darn, whatever shall I do.  More duck, please!
Removing pin feathers from the duck

*My duck came with some of the pin feathers still attached. I removed them by scraping with the edge of my paring knife to get them to stand up, then pulling them out with needle-nosed pliers. Yes, I have a pair of stainless steel needle-nosed pliers dedicated to the kitchen. I bought them for salmon pin-bone removal, and at the time I felt guilty about buying a unitasker. Alton Brown would never forgive me! But, I got over the guilt because they aren't a unitasker - it is surprising how many uses I find for a pair of needle-nosed pliers in the kitchen.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Rotisserie Duck
Rotisserie Duck, Peking Style
Rotisserie Pan Potatoes

Adapted From: Steven Raichlen's Rotisserie episode of "Primal Grill"



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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This looks fabulous! I can't wait to try it. I love to cook but I'm still intimidated with my grill. After looking over your recipes, I feel a little more confident to try. Thanks!

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Anonymous:

You're welcome. Don't be intimidated by the grill! Sure, things won't always be perfect... but that's part of the fun. There's something about grilled food - it's still pretty good as long as it isn't burnt to a crisp.

Daniel said...

Wow. I love the dry brine on the duck! The skin was to die for! My picky kiddos hovered that bird up, and we didn't have any leftovers.
I tried comparing a wet brine and dry brine on a pair of chickens I tossed on the rotisserie. I like the juiciness of the wet brine, but the skin was soggy. I even let it dry out for 20 hours in the fridge after brining, (sprinkled with baking powder, too). Would it help to sprinkle it with salt next time, do you think? Or would that make it too salty?

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Daniel:

Thank you! I'm glad the duck was a hit with the kids.

I wouldn't wet brine and then sprinkle with salt - that would probably come out too salty.

I'm surprised that the skin still wasn't crisp, even after 20 hours in the fridge after brining. Overnight in the fridge should be enough to dry out the skin.

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