CANARD ROTI AU PLAT (FRENCH)
As promised, here's the procedure I used to roast last night's duck for Christmas Eve. The fancy-sounding French name just means "roast duck on a plate," but it sounds so much more elly-gunt that way.
The basic procedure comes from Craig Claiborne's "New New York Times Cookbook," but I tinkered a little -- he wanted far more cooking time than it needed, and I also added a dry-rub/mini-marinade in advance of cooking to give it just a little more flavor interest and a bit of Franco-Asian "fusion" spin.
A few hours before dinner, rinse and dry a 5-pound duckling, put it on a large plate, and rub it all over with dark soy sauce. Rub the inside with a cut lime half, and leave the lime in the cavity. Sprinkle with a discreet amount of Chinese "five spice" seasoning, and place it in the refrigerator. Take it out every hour or so and rub in a little more soy sauce.
About an hour and a half before dinner, preheat the oven to 450F. Take the duck out of the refrigerator, give it one last dose of soy sauce and another light sprinkle of "five spice." Discard the lime half and throw a couple of smashed garlic cloves into the cavity. Truss by tying the legs and tail together with kitchen string to make a nice, easy-to-handle package.
Cut the duck neck into three or four short pieces and throw them into a shallow roasting pan. Put in the duck, sitting on its back with the breast up. Put it in the oven, and turn down the heat immediately to 375F.
After 30 minutes, discard as much as possible of the fat that's cooked out (I used a turkey baster to suck it up and squirt it into an empty can.) Turn the duck on its side, and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove fat again, and turn the duck on its breast, back up. Increase heat to 400F and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove fat again, turn on the OTHER side, and cook for 15 minutes more.
Sometime during this process, fry the duck liver in a little duck fat, add salt and pepper, chop it, and set aside.
Now -- carefully -- transfer the duck to ANOTHER roasting pan, breast up; rub it all over with a smashed garlic clove, and pop the bird back into the oven for 15 more minutes, during which time it should turn a rich mahogany brown.
Remove all remaining fat from the first pan, put it on top of the stove, and over high heat, deglaze with about 1/4 cup of white wine. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth, reduce heat, and stir in the chopped duck liver.
Pop the duck onto a serving plate, pour this quick reduction sauce around it; serve, and eat. Forks optional.
I had originally slated an Oregon Pinot Noir as the companion to this dish, but based on good advice from the forum, switched over to an excellent Bordeaux ('89 L'Evangile Pomerol) instead. It was definitely a good decision, as the match was darn near perfect.