Peking duck is a classic recipe at the Chinese-American restaurants I grew up with. Much to my surprise, it’s an authentic Chinese recipe as well. This post was inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations in Beijing. The Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant cooks their ducks by hanging them over a roaring fire in a huge wood fired oven. I took one look at the ducks browning over the fire, and I knew I had to try it myself. *If you’ve enjoyed Tony’s books and TV shows, you might want to check this out. His…well, warped sense of humor is in full view in: Anthony Bourdain’s Alternate Universe. It’s the Tony Bourdain cartoon! Just don’t say I didn’t warn you about the “warped” part…
3 slices of ginger (each roughly the size of a quarter)
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 tangerine (or orange)
Dry Brine the Duck: 24 to 48 hours before you want to start cooking, salt the duck evenly, inside and out. Put the duck on a rack over a roasting pan or baking sheet, and store in the refrigerator, uncovered. (This dries out the skin to help it crisp up, and gives the salt time to dry brine the duck.)
Prep the duck: One hour before cooking, remove the duck from the refrigerator. Put all the stuffing ingredients except for the half a tangerine into a small bowl. Toss the stuffing ingredients until well coated with the oil and five spice powder. 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 half a tangerine and the stuffing mix. Finally, truss the duck, and skewer it on your rotisserie spit. Let it rest at room temperature while you prepare the grill.
Set the grill up for indirect medium-high heat: Set the grill up for rotisserie cooking at medium-high heat (400°F). For my Weber Summit, I remove the grill grates, turn the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to high, and turn 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.
Make the sauce: While the grill is preheating, put all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Cook the duck: Put the spit on the grill, and cook the duck with the lid closed for 1 to 2 hours. After 45 minutes, check the duck; if the duck is browning well, turn off the infrared rotisserie burner (or reduce the heat to medium - 350°F). The duck is done when it reaches 180°F in the deepest part of the thigh, about an hour and a half of total cooking time. Brush the duck with sauce, close the lid, and cook for another five minutes to tighten up the sauce. Brush the duck with another layer of the sauce, then take it off the grill.
Carve the duck: Remove the duck from the rotisserie spit (carefully - it is branding iron hot), and cut away the twine. Let the duck rest for 10 minutes. Cut off the wings and legs, and serve them bone in; carve the breasts off the carcass, and slice them into 1/2" thick slices. I like to serve by putting the carved pieces of duck on a platter and drizzling with a little of the sauce. Then I give everyone a little bowl of sauce for dipping, and let them serve themselves from the platter.
Notes: *I serve this with a side of white rice and a stir-fried vegetable or two. Any leftover sauce is great drizzled on the rice.
*For Peking duck in the style of your local Chinese restaurant, you should also serve Chinese pancakes and scallion shreds on the side. You should be able to find the pancakes at your local asian market.
Questions? Suggestions? Ideas? Leave them in the comments.
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