Making a duck with crisp, browned skin is not as difficult as you might imagine, although it does require some advance planning since you need to douse the uncooked duck with boiling water, then with soy sauce, before refrigerating it overnight. If you prep the duck today, the final step of roasting and glazing the bird will take little more than an hour tomorrow.
- 1 whole Muscovy or Long Island duck, about 4 to 5 lb. (2 to 2.5 kg), butterflied
- 6 cups (48 fl. oz./1.5 l) boiling water
- 2 Tbs. soy sauce
For the glaze:
- 2 Tbs. pomegranate molasses
- 2 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1/2 tsp. peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
- Small pinch of Chinese five-spice powder
Place the duck, skin side up, on a clean rack set in the sink. Pour 1 to 2 cups (8 to 16 fl. oz./250 to 500 ml) of the boiling water evenly over the duck. Repeat 2 or 3 times, waiting 2 minutes between dousings. Pat the duck dry with paper towels and transfer the duck to a plate. Brush the duck skin with the soy sauce. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours to allow the skin to dry out.
Remove the duck from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before roasting. Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Select a flat roasting rack that will elevate the duck at least 1/2 inch (12 mm) off the bottom of the baking sheet. Oil the rack and set it on the prepared baking sheet.
To make the glaze, in a small bowl, stir together the pomegranate molasses, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and five-spice powder.
Place the duck, skin side up, on the oiled rack, spreading the legs away from the body to expose more skin. Pour 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) water into the baking sheet. Roast the duck for 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and lightly brush the skin with the glaze. Using a bulb baster, carefully remove and discard as much of the accumulated hot liquid as possible from the bottom of the baking sheet. Continue to roast the duck until the skin is browned and crisp and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh away from the bone registers 170° (77°C), about 30 minutes longer. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, transfer the duck to a carving board and tent with aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour any remaining glaze into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and set aside. Using a sharp, heavy knife or poultry shears, cut the duck in half along each side of the breastbone. Cut each half in half again, separating the breast and wing from the thigh and leg. Divide the duck among warmed individual plates. Pour the warm glaze over the duck meat and serve immediately. Serves 2 or 3.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Year-Round Roasting (Weldon Owen, 2011)