There’s no anticipation quite like the build up of a long, languid roast, and for me that’s especially the case when we’re talking roast duck. This one gently crisps up for a good five hours, which might sound a bit time guzzling, but apart from the odd bit of turning and prodding, you can pretty much leave it alone.
I picked up a bottle of yuzu juice (that distinctive, mandarin-grapefruit like citrus) in the Japan centre the other day and had the remnants of a jar of yujacha* knocking around, so decided to experiment with a modern twist on the classic duck a l’orange. The slow roasting resulted in ultra tender meat and conker-coloured skin, while the aromatic citrus scythed through those crisp lipids beautifully with just the perfect degree of acidity (you can buy yuzu online here, but I’m sure a juicy blob of good old Seville marmalade and some pink grapefruit juice would also be a brilliant substitute). The sauce a la yuzu is sweet, sharp, savoury and salty all at once, in that maddeningly addictive drink-it-straight- from-the-pan kind of way.
*Yujacha is a marmalade type drink from Korea made with yuzu and sugar or honey and diluted with hot water to make fruit tea.
One duck, giblets removed
1 or 2 onions, peeled and studded with a few cloves
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp chilli sauce
5-6 tsp yuzu juice/pink grapefruit juice
½ pint chicken stock
2 tsp cornflour
3 tsp honey
1 tbsp yujacha, plus 2 tsp for the sauce
- Wash and dry the duck thoroughly. Lightly score diamonds through the fat.
- Stud an onion or two with cloves, and roughly hack up a fat finger of ginger –stuff these in the cavity.
- Salt liberally and snip off any excess fat from the extremities. Place in a rack in a roasting tray and roast at 150C/300F/gas mark 2 for an hour.
- Prick all over and turn the bird over. Repeat for about 4 hours, until crisp and brown all over.
- Drain off the fat, and reserve for roasting vegetables, smothering on toast etc.
- Gently heat a tablespoon of sugar in a thick-based pan until it turns to a rich mahogany caramel.
- Add a teaspoon of rice vinegar, one of chilli sauce and about 5-6 teaspoons of yuzu.
- Add half a pint of chicken stock and whisk in a teaspoon or two of cornflour. Stir and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon (you might want to add a bit of soy at this point, but I found my stock was salty enough). Stir in the honey and two teaspoons of yujicha/marmalade.
- For the final hour, the breast should be face up. Turn the heat up to about 190C/375F/gas mark 5 for ten minutes or so, just to ensure a good depth of colour.
- Brush liberally with the yujicha/marmalade, turn the oven down a little and continue to roast for 30 minutes (make sure the glaze doesn’t burn).
- Rest for 15 minutes and serve with plenty of sauce and some nice green vegetables.