Well, it turns out that drying is a pretty important part of crispy skin. Here’s how it turned out. As you can see, the skin is crisp and a very nice brown color. The meat is firm and moist, not falling apart like the slow roasted duck.
Here’s how we got there.
Then we introduced the trick we’re trying this time: drying the in refrigerator for 3 days to dry out the skin. We placed him on a vertical roaster so that air could circulate all around him while drying out in the refrigerator.
After a day, the skin was drier and a lighter brown/red color. The legs had not dried as much and were still white and soft.
The skin continued to dry another day.
On the morning of the third day, we poured a very light glaze over him. This was made of 2T honey, 1t salt, and a cup of water. It was heated until it all dissolved and then cooled to room temperature. We poured it over him twice before putting him in the fridge to dry out before we cooked him that night.
We placed him on a rack to collect the fat.
We roasted him at 425 for 15 min, followed by 1 hr 15 min @ 350. There was the option of raising the temp to 375 and cooking for another 15 min, but he seemed quite done at that point, so we let him rest for 20 min while we prepped the veggies.
We were actually shocked at how pretty he was coming out of the oven. Even though there was only a small amount of honey in the glaze, the skin browned up beautifully. He looked like he could have passed for a duck hanging up outside a Chinese BBQ.
We had a bag of mole negro that we had picked up from Specialty Produce that had been made by a company that sells in the Mercado de Abastos of Oaxaca. We had gotten lost there while visiting a couple years back and were really happy to have found the mole again. Next to the duck are some lovely brussels sprouts from Chino Nojo and our bacon.
Although the duck had gorgeous skin, there were a couple issues that are going to keep us playing with this for awhile.
One was that although the skin was crispy, it was thicker than we were expecting and somewhat leathery. We think that this may be due to the skin drying out too long. Next time, we will only dry 1-2 days.
There was also quite a bit more fat left on the duck than the slow roasted version. It did not render as much fat — only about 3/4c. Some of this fat stayed under the skin, which made for a rich duck, but maybe too rich for our tastes.
The final concern was that the flavor of the meat was not as good as it could have been. When we had the duck the next day, we found that a little salt was really the key. So, the meat when we first cooked it just wasn’t seasoned enough. This recipe had hardly any salt and we should have added more when we ate it.
If we try this this particular recipe again, we’ll cut the drying to 1-2 days, and salt the cavity or brine it for a few hours. It would be nice to get a bit more of the fat melted, but it was really tasty, so maybe we don’t have to work so hard on that one!
I am also very curious to see how cooking the duck in fat instead of roasting will alter the whole process. I think the next duck we’ll be playing with has a date with the deep fryer.