The first time I made duck, I made Duck a l’Orange. It must have been about 30 years ago and quite honestly, although I’d only ever tasted it once before, in a restaurant I could barely afford at the time, it turned out delicious. I’d seen it made on TV a dozen or so times by Chefs like Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Graham Kerr, Bonnie Stern etc. They made it look so easy and really, it was easy to make. We loved it! My tastes have changed a lot since then. I think as you get older and have eaten your share of richer foods on a more frequent basis, you tend to crave the simpler tastes.

Walking through the grocery store I spotted these fresh ducks. I wanted to make a simple no-fuss dinner and something that didn’t need a lot of prep/post work allowing me to do other things. Duck fit the bill (oh that’s funny!). I also chose asparagus as an accompaniment. When you have something as rich as duck, it is best to keep the side(s) simple. This was a King Cole duck. I’m telling you this because it was their recipe I used (and have used almost every time I make duck). The end result, a crispy skinned duck, moist on the inside and so flavorful. Plus – bonus, almost 8 oz. of pure duck extract (fat)! Yes, do not throw this out. I used 1 tbsp. of duck extract to make the asparagus. Oh my goodness, it made the asparagus sing like Pavarotti. There was a bit more to it than that in the actual recipe, and I share that information below.

I served the duck with the asparagus – that’s it, really! It was delicious, and a filling meal. Could you add anything more, of course you could, that’s your choice, but keep it simple. Taste the duck! As always – enjoy!

1 4-6 lb. King Cole duck
Salt, Pepper – to taste (about 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp pepper)
Cayenne Pepper – to taste, optional, but do try it! (about 1 tsp)
1 head garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1 onion – quartered
2 stalks celery – chopped roughly

1 bunch of asparagus
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp grated Romano cheese
1 tbsp. duck extract (from the roasted duck)

Preheat the oven to 325f
Unwrap the duck, rinse and pat it dry with paper towels – inside and out
Trim the ends of the duck wings off – or leave them on and roast with the duck
Using a sharp wooden skewer or the tip of a pairing knife, poke small tiny holes all over the duck, this allows the duck extract to drip out and accumulate in the bottom of the tray – don’t pierce the meat, just the skin
Generously salt and pepper the duck, inside and out
Sprinkle the outside of the duck with the cayenne (if using)
Rub the entire duck to ensure the salt, pepper and cayenne get into the skin of the duck
Place on a rack in a rimmed baking tray – the duck should not be sitting in the fat when baking
Roast for 2 – 2 1/2 hours – I set my timer for 1 hour intervals and check when the timer goes off, rotate the pan
The last half hour is critical and can make the difference between a moist flavorful meaty duck and a dry tasteless meaty duck – so get out your instant read thermometer or oven thermometer and check the temperature – 165 – 170f is what I aim for when doing a whole duck roast (temperature taken at the thickest portion of the thigh)

Remove the duck from the oven, lift off the tray and drain any excess extract from inside the cavity
Allow the duck to rest – uncovered, so the skin stays crisp and the duck cools slightly
Cut the duck in half with a sharp knife or kitchen shears – along either side of the backbone of the duck
Flip over, slice down the middle and then cut off leg/thigh portions and breast portions
Serve with asparagus
When the extract has cooled, pour through a strainer lined with a coffee filter or paper towel into a clean jar. Keep this in the fridge and use it to flavor any vegetables or pasta you are making!

For the asparagus – bake this once the duck is cooked
Wash the asparagus and take the bottom 1 1/2 inches off the bottom
Dry on paper towels or clean tea towels
Arrange on a parchment lined rimmed baking tray and pour the duck extract on top
Rub the asparagus in the duck extract
Salt and pepper lightly, sprinkle Romano cheese on top
Roast in the oven for 10 minutes
Serve immediately with the duck
I did serve a bottle of Magnetic North Reisling-Sauvignon Blanc blend with this, but could easily have gone with a Pinot Noir as well. Serve whatever wine you like to drink that complements the taste of this simple yet rich in taste meal!

Duck - Whole Roasted 1

Duck Breast Sliced Plate 1

Duck Leg with Asparagus 1

Duck Breast Sliced 2