Contrary to popular belief, duck is not fatty or greasy when properly cooked. The layer of fat beneath the skin dissolves during cooking, leaving the dark meat moist and tender with a rich flavour.
The key to success when roasting duck is to place the bird on a rack above the roasting pan to catch all the fat.
Don't throw out the duck fat! Its rich flavour and higher smoke-point make it a favourite among European chefs. They use it to fry potatoes and onions, even omelettes. it can also be used to enrich a stew.
One 4 to 5 lb (2 to 2.2 kg) duck serves 2 to 4 people.
Refrigerate a fresh duck and use within two days or freeze in its original package up to six months.
Never thaw frozen duck on the counter. Thaw in a pan in the refrigerator, loosely covered.
Duck needs a longer cooking time than chicken or turkey to ensure the fat melts away completely and the skin is crisp and golden.
To cook a duck breast, or magret, score the skin with criss-cross lines without cutting into the meat. Place skin-side down in a hot pan over medium-high heat. Sear 2 to 4 minutes, then reduce heat to medium. Turn and cook 6 to 8 minutes, until medium-rare. Let stand several minutes before slicing thinly.
Roast a whole duck, uncovered,at 350°F (180°C) oven for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the thickest part of the thigh or breast reaches 165°F (75°C) on a meat thermometer. The skin should be crisp and brown and the legs should move freely.
Let rest 15 minutes, tented with foil, before serving.
There’s no need to carve a duck. Instead, use poultry shears to cut the bird in half down the breast, then along each side of the backbone and between the leg and breast.