I am a big fan of Alton Brown, host of Food Network‘s shows Iron Chef America and Good Eats and mentor on the current season of The Next Food Network Star; but this is a recent development. I only heard of him for the first time when he appeared in the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, riding atop the Tom Turkey float with his daughter Zoe. I was marching in the parade as a pirate clown, and my wife, who came along to take pictures before the parade began, was overjoyed to see him next to the float in his Puritan costume.
Then just a few months ago, we were watching an episode of Good Eats and there was a recipe for how to roast a duck, and I was thrilled. I had never roasted a duck, and had the feeling that it was really hard to do, so to get some insight into how to do it got me excited. I squirreled away the knowledge that there was an episode of Good Eats that told how to roast duck, and kept it in the back of my mind that I would really have to try this.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I asked my wife where we could get a whole duck to roast using Alton Brown’s recipe. She informed me that we could order one from our local Jubilee supermarket. So I spoke to the butcher there, and within a few days, waiting for us at Jubilee was a nice 6-1/2 pound Long Island duckling. I butterflied and salted it according to Brown’s specifications (making one mistake in the process that is visible in the first photo above), and put it in the refrigerator for 4 days, and waited.
Last night was the pay-off! After roasting the duck in the oven for an hour at 350 degrees and another 15 minutes at 450, I took it out and it looked beautiful, all golden brown. I laid it on a sheet pan to rest, and poured off the duck fat into a Pyrex cup, and was amazed that we got more than a cup of what Brown calls “culinary gold”. I used a quarter cup as the base for the oyster dressing, but still have lots left over – not sure what ‘d going to do with it yet, but I have some ideas.
Then came the assembling of the oyster dressing. Here is where I deviated from the recipe a bit. Brown says to use crumbled corn bread, but based on an underwhelming experience using corn bread in stuffing last Thanksgiving, I decided to use my usual staple for stuffing instead: Arnold Brick Oven Premium White Bread. After toasting it in the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes, I slice it into cubes and it has the perfect body and taste for amazing dressing. And it worked here to a tee!
I was relatively satisfied with the results. The skin came out a little too salty for me, so next time I will use less salt in the prep. In fact, my wife and I both felt that the dish needed something sweet to balance out the flavors, so we brought out some Trader Joe’s Peach Salsa to dip the duck and dressing into. Overall, considering this was my first attempt at roast duck, it was a fun and rewarding experience! Thank you, Alton Brown!
P.S. One of the things I liked about this recipe was that it contained no dairy ingredients that I had to substitute for. While I am adept at doing that after all these years, it is easier to deal with a recipe that doesn’t have any dairy ingredients in it!