The following three recipes are from a book called ‘The Chef’s Secret Cook Book’ by a Hungarian psychologist turned chef named Louis Szathmary. Szathmary is more interested in good food that in culinary pomposity and that makes for some good reading. At the end of each recipe is a ‘Chef’s Secret’ that explains exactly why the recipe recipe is prepared in the way it is.
Preheat the oven to 300F to 325F.
Use a roasting pan with a tight-fitting cover. Put the lard, duck fat, or chicken fat into the roasting pan. Reach into the vent end of the duckling and remove the neck and giblets, which will be inside the body cavity. Rub the inside and outside of the duckling with Chef’s Salt.
Place the duckling, breast down, directly on top of the lump of fat in the roasting pan. Place the cut vegetables and garlic inside, on, and around the duckling. Add about 1 to 2 inches of water to the pan. Add the peppercorns, bay leaf, and marjoram. Cover and place in the preheated oven.
After 2 hours, take the roasting pan out of the oven and very carefully remove the duckling to a platter. Let it cool completely. If it is not completely cooled, the dish will not turn out properly.
To finish, split the duckling lengthwise by standing it on the neck end and, with a sharp knife, cutting from the tip of the tail directly down the center. To quarter, each half may again be cut.
Place the cold, split duckling pieces, cut side down and skin side up, on a slightly greased cookie sheet. Return to a 425F to 450F oven for 18 to 22 minutes. Before serving, remove the first two joints of the wing, leaving only the third. CHEF’S SECRET: The success of a roast duckling starts with the buying. For best results, buy the best. A 4 1/2 to 5-lb. duckling is the most satisfactory and economical size. It is perfectly safe and even advisable to buy frozen duckling. Look for the mark of government inspection on the package. Store in a freezer or the freezing compartment of the refrigerator until ready to use. Before using, let the duckling defrost overnight in the bottom of the refrigerator. After it has been defrosted completely and the flesh feels soft, preparation may begin. After the duckling has been removed from the roasting pan to cool, it can be safely kept at room temperature all day. Or, if the weather is very hot and humid, store the duckling in the refrigerator after it has cooled to room temperature. It is important to bring it back to room temperature about an hour before finishing. Do not reheat right from the refrigerator. Perhaps you wonder why fat is added to the duck, which is a naturally fat bird. As the water starts to beat in the roasting pan, the fat becomes liquid and forms an even surface over the top of the water. The surface of fat has a boiling point of 360F degrees, while the water boils at 212F. Without the fat, the water would create a vapor surrounding the duck in the covered roasting pan. This would give the bird a steam-cooked, undesirable taste, and would prevent the fat under the duck skin from oozing out as it does in dry air. Makes 2 to 4 servings. CHEF’S SALT’ Mix well and use instead of salt. Be careful to use garlic salt, not garlic powder. If you use garlic powder a small pinch is enough. From ‘The Chef’s Secret Cookbook’, Louis Szathmary, Quadrangle Books, Chicago.
Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; March 14 1993. Archive January 2010 December 2009 July 2009 June 2009 April 2009 March 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008