Whole Duck Cooking Tips
Planning a duck dinner: One whole duck serves 3-4 people. If used in a salad, stir-fry or casserole, one whole duck will feed 5-6 people.
Defrosting duck: When defrosting, never let duck thaw on the counter. Instead defrost the duck in the refrigerator. A breast will thaw overnight; a whole bird can take two days or more. For faster thawing, submerge the duck in its original packaging in COLD water, changing water every 30 minutes.
Best way to store duck: Keep duck in a freezer at 0° F. Defrosted duck should be refrigerated at no higher than 40° F and used within two days.
Holiday Party Table Accents
Cooking two ducks at once: You can cook two ducks at once. Follow the directions for cooking the larger of the two ducks and add 15 minutes cooking time.
• To make your table setting more festive for the holidays, simply wrap a piece of ribbon around your napkins. Just roll the napkins (whether cloth or paper), wrap them with a piece of ribbon, and tie the ribbon for a beautiful touch.
• If you use place cards, why not try miniature pumpkins? Using a permanent marker, simply write your guests' names directly on the pumpkins' surface and put at each place. Or, tuck a place card in a pine cone for each person.
• Place colored bottles filled with olive oil and fresh herbs on table. Tie colored candles of various shapes and sizes with raffia and place on table throughout appetizers.
• Add warmth with votive candles in rustic holders. Place seasonal flowers in a wooden basket.
• Tie a decorative gold wired ribbon around a vase of red and white roses. Leave long ends to gracefully wrap under and around serving dishes.
• Beautiful centerpieces can be easily made by filling clear glass vases or containers with fruits, acorns, or cranberries and a pillar candle.
Cooking a whole duck with stuffing: We do not recommend stuffing a raw duck, because the raw juices drip down into the stuffing, which requires longer cooking time to get the stuffing up to 165° F. This will result in over cooking the duck. We recommend cooking dressing (stuffing) on the side. If you want to place the cooked dressing inside the cooked duck for presentation, go right ahead.
Cooking a whole duck on a rotisserie: A duck is delicious cooked on a rotisserie. And it's even better if you brine it overnight before cooking it. All sorts of flavor can be added by brining. Orange juice, tea, cider, beer, wine, soy sauce and many other liquids can be used to replace the water. Then add complimentary herbs and spices to create your own special flavor blend. For directions on how to brine a duck, check out: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Poultry/BriningPoultry.htm
Typically a 5-pound duck will cook in 1½ to 2 hours. The internal temperature at the leg joint should reach 175° F. Also, check to see if the leg joint is loose and tender and juices run clear.
If using a table top rotisserie, set heat to medium-low. If using a grill, heat grill to medium and place a drip pan under the duck to catch the rendered fat.
Roasting a whole duck: Roast the duck uncovered on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, breast-side up, or roast on a vertical poultry roaster in a pan. For an un-marinated whole duck, allow 30 minutes per pound in a preheated 350° F oven. For a marinated duck, allow 22 minutes per pound at 375° F. or until internal temperature at the leg joint reaches 175° F. When a roasted whole duck has completed cooking, the legs will move easily.
A vertical roaster is a perfect way to roast a whole duck. Even the beer can roasters work well with duck.
When roasting a whole duck, place it on a rack in a pan, so the fat can drain freely into the bottom of the pan and duck doesn’t sit in it. Line the pan with aluminum foil before putting the rack in it, and you have a very easy clean-up!
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