My two favorite whole roast duck dishes are duck l’orange and Peking duck, but it’s been some time since I cooked either as I usually prepare just the breasts or leg quarters when I do cook duck. Needless to say, it was a real treat to have a whole duck to work with. This recipe takes inspiration from both dishes. From duck l’orange I keyed in on using oranges. From Peking duck I used three techniques crucial to getting very crispy skin; separating the skin from the meat, drying the now separated skin, and pouring the boiling hot marinade over the whole duck prior to roasting.
The orange from the duck l’orange led me to the Caribbean mojo, a sour orange juice based sauce/marinade popular here in Florida, especially with roast chicken. Not one to leave well enough alone I took a detour through Hawaii and added pineapple, honey, and a little Chinese five spice powder, all of which pair well with oranges. Finally, to balance out the dish I added a touch of ancho chili powder for smokiness and a little heat.
I love the crispy skin of authentic Peking duck. I applied three techniques used in the making of Peking duck crucial to making the skin nice and crispy to this recipe.
First, I separated the skin from the meat, over the breasts, but especially over the thighs and where they connect to the body of the duck. Restaurants do this using compressed air, however, not having an air compressor in my home kitchen I very carefully and gently did the separation with my hands. (This step will take some time. Don’t rush it as you may end up tearing the skin.) Ducks have a lot of fat just below the skin. If the skin is not separated from the meat before cooking the fat will have nowhere to go as it renders and the skin will not get crispy. Separating the skin especially around the thighs will give the rendered fat a path to travel away from the skin enabling it to crisp up.
Second, I placed the duck that has now had its skin separated from the meat, into the fridge, uncovered, and overnight. This will help the skin to crisp during cooking.
Third, and just before roasting, I tightened the separated skin on the duck back onto the body of the duck by boiling the mojo marinade and pouring it over the duck. (In authentic Peking duck the duck is immersed in boiling, seasoned water.) This may seem counter-intuitive as you may think that the fat still has nowhere to go now that the skin has been tightened but the bonds between the skin/fat and the meat have been broken so there will be room for the rendered fat to drain away.
1 three to four pound Pekin duck (in this case one from Grove Ladder Farm, Sarasota, Florida)
Mirepoix of fruit, veggies, herbs, and aromatics for the roasted duck:1 red onion large dice
2 celery stalks large dice
1 large carrot peeled large dice
2 navel oranges
1 medium pineapple peeled and cut into large piecesAbout 3 cups
Do not use canned pineapple as it will be too sweet
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Mojo marinade2 cups sour orange juiceIf you do not have access to sour orange juice, which is bitter and very acidic, use:1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Chinese five spice
2 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp dried Mexican oreganoor 1 tsp dried Italian oregano
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
Prep the duck (must be done at least 12 hours prior to when you begin roasting):Wash the outside and the cavity of the duck, pat dry.
Starting with the tail end of the duck, slowly and carefully begin inserting your fingers between the skin and the meat, slowly work your way halfway up the breast, then down and around the thigh, especially over the joint where the thigh connects to the body.
Turn the duck 180° and do the same to separate the skin from the upper half of the breast and around the wing joint.
Place the duck, breast-side up, on a baking dish or tray and into the fridge, uncovered, for at least 12 hours or overnight.This will dry out the skin somewhat and help with crisping the skin while roasting.
Take out of the fridge one hour prior to when you want to begin roasting to allow the duck to warm up to room temp.
Prep the mirepoix:Peel the onion, cut into large dice (1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces), place in a large roasting pan (with cover is desirable).
Wash the celery, cut into large dice, add to the roasting pan.
Wash and peel the carrot, cut into large dice, add to the roasting pan.
Wash the oranges, slice the peel off of each orange, slice each orange into 1/2 to 1 inch thick rounds, add to the roasting pan.Slice the white pith off of the peels, discard the pith, add the peels to the roasting pan.
Peel the pineapple, discard the peel, slice the peeled pineapple in half lengthwise, then slice each half lengthwise into four wedges, cut off and discard (or eat, I do) the fibrous center from each wedge, cut the remaining pineapple into large chunks about 1 to 1 1/2 inch long, add to the roasting pan.
Prep the mojo marinade:Place all the ingredients into a non-reactive, medium saucepan, stir really well to mix and fully incorporate the honey; set aside.
Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (177° C), place a rack on the second from the bottom level.
Final prep of the duck for roasting:Pour 1/4 cup of the mojo marinade into the cavity of the duck.
Place the sprigs of fresh thyme and enough of the pineapple chunks and orange slices in the roasting pan into the cavity of the duck to fill it up.
Pinch the flaps of skin on the sides of the cavity together and “sew” the cavity closed with a bamboo or metal skewer.
Truss the duck or simply tie the legs together using kitchen twine.
Place the roasting pan at a place convenient to the stovetop as you will be pouring the very hot marinade over the duck (next step)
Bring the saucepan with the marinade to a boil, carefully pour over the top of the duck; especially the duck breast and leg quarters.
Cover the roasting pan with the cover or with aluminum foil.
Your duck is ready to go into the oven.
FOOD SAFETY TIP!Make sure to wash everything used in preparing raw chicken such as kitchen tools, cutting boards, containers, surfaces, and especially your hands in hot soapy water afterward to prevent cross-contamination.
Also, I use a yellow cutting board just for poultry as an added precaution against cross-contamination.
Place the covered roasting pan into the pre-heated oven and onto the second from the bottom level.
Cook covered for 1 hour, carefully remove the foil, cook uncovered for 30 minutes, basting the duck frequently with the pan juices.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven, carefully remove the pineapple chunks, orange slices and thyme from the cavity, place the duck on a cutting board to rest for 20 minutes.
Remove the chunks of pineapple from the roasting pan; set aside but keep warm, they will be served along with the duck.
Strain the remaining contents of the roasting pan into a heatproof bowl, skim off but retain the fat (it may be stored in the fridge and used for many other dishes like roasting veggies), use the remaining liquid as one would a jus (season if necessary), for the duck meat.
After 20 minutes of resting your pineapple and honey mojo roasted duck is ready,
Carve and serve with the chunks of pineapple and very flavorful jus.
Pineapple and Honey Mojo Roast Duck