I’m going to tell you a secret, mes amis. When we make Peking duck in the Mah family, we don’t grab an axe and head out to the duck farm to slaughter, pluck, gut, scald, dry, pump with air, glaze, and roast our very own bird. No, our recipe for duck involves a trip to…
Chinatown. Here, we pick up a pre-cooked duck, bring it home, and doctor it up. This weekend, I was lucky enough to get a duck tutorial from my dad and I’m so excited to share his special method with you…
Heat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF. Cut the pope’s nose off your bird, and arrange the duck breast-side down on a rack over a shallow tray. Add a cup or so of water to the tray (to prevent the dripping fat from smoking up your kitchen).
After 1 1/2 hours, flip the duck so the backside is down, and continue cooking for another hour. Poke the breast — the skin should have tightened slightly. Remove the duck from the oven. The goal is to render the fat so that the skin slips easily from the meat. But be careful: you don’t want it to darken too much. Allow the duck to cool completely, and then, with a sharp knife, cut and slide the skin off in one single piece (if possible). Using a spoon, scrape off any fat on the inside surface of the skin. Also scrape all the excess fat from the duck meat.
Place the skin on the rack in a hot oven (200ºC/400ºF) for about ten minutes (check after the first five minutes). When the skin is hard and crisp, like well-done bacon, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Carve the duck. Cut the crisped skin into squares with the help of kitchen shears. Before serving, you can re-heat the duck meat (but not the skin) in a microwave oven for two minutes.
Serve with duck pancakes (available in the frozen section of your Chinese supermarket), duck sauce (half hoisin, half plum sauce) slivers of scallion and cucumber, and cilantro leaves.