Monday, January 3, 2011

Peking Duck

I started 2011 with a grand culinary idea. “I will make Peking Duck”, she said sheepishly. Personally, I am a lukewarm Chinese food lover. So, the idea of Peking Duck was both a surprise and a shocker. My main draw to the dish was all of the prep work and written praises about the crispy skin and succulent meat. The way I saw it was I could order Peking Duck at a restaurant or make it myself. So, I made my list and went to the market on New Year's Day.

My grocer did not have fresh duck. So, after purchasing a few weekly staples I headed to the nearest Asian market. To my surprise they too did not have fresh duck, only frozen duck. I sulked silently and purchased my 6 pound frozen duck at $2.99/pound. However, a frozen duck meant a day for thawing.

On January 2nd I cleaned and rinsed my duck and placed it a solution of water, vinegar, honey and cornstarch. This step tightens the skin and begins rendering the fat. I proceeded to placed my duck on a rack with a pan beneath it to catch the drippings. I then positioned it below a roaring ceiling fan. I left my duck to dry and played Mah Jongg with friends.

Upon my return, 6 hours later, I promptly placed my duck in a 350 oven on a rack. I placed a pan with a little water in it to catch the fat drippings. It roasted for 1 ½ hours. I cooled it for 15 minutes. I was very excited to taste my efforts. I was disappointed. The taste was ok but the amount of meat from this 6 pound duck was slim to none.

Did I do something wrong? I am not sure. Did I need more drying time? Even if the drying time should have been longer that still does not account for the small amount of meat.

Well, my conclusion is Peking duck is not for a crowd or the budget minded. I may consider Peking Duck the next time I go out for Chinese. But that evening, after Peking Duck, I had a bowl of popcorn and a beer.

Happy New Year!

January 18 is Peking Duck Day
January 19 is National Popcorn Day

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