The original recipe calls for wild rice, which is the grain of a swamp grass from the US. However, because it is not easily available in Malaysia, I had substituted it with basmati rice, which works quite well in this recipe.
The most time-consuming task in preparing duck is plucking out all the feather stubble from the duck skin. You will need a pair of tweezers to pull out the stubs as you rub your fingers against the duck skin. This operation can take up to an hour depending on how clean the butcher had denuded the bird when you bought it.
Once the outside of the bird is cleaned, you will need to check the inside that all internal organs have been removed. Give it a good rinse and dry completely with kitchen towels inside and outside. Then place the bird uncovered on a rack in a tray into the refrigerator to allow it to dry in the cold air overnight. This will remove the moisture from the skin so it gets crispy when roasted.
The next day, lift out the bird and pat dry any wet spots that have pooled inside the bird and make sure the skin is dry to the touch. Then trim off the feet, head and neck and place them into the roasting pan with water and chicken broth. They will roast and boil while the duck is being roasted on the rack above, and reduce into a rich gravy. The only part of the bird that I will avoid is the duck rump or bishop’s nose, which will make the dish very gamy if not discarded.
Duck fat is one of the most prized ingredients for many chefs, and the flavour it imparts to your dish is incomparable. This is why I reserve the big pieces of solid fat from the duck to be rendered into oil for the dish. The resultant crackling after the oil is rendered is your treat for putting in this extra bit of effort.
The liquidised duck fat is then used to temper the spices and to fry the nuts and the rice, making them toasty and fragrant. I also add some olive oil before sweating the onions and garlic because most of the oil would have been absorbed by the rice. Any excess oil will drip into the pan during roasting and can be skimmed off and saved for later use.
Fill the duck while the stuffing is still hot if you are roasting the bird immediately. Otherwise, keep them separate in the refrigerator so that the filling is not spoiled by the raw bird. When ready to roast, heat up the stuffing before filling because the inside of the bird needs to reach 85°C as quickly as possible to kill any harmful bacteria. Do not fill the bird with cold stuffing.
Roast the duck immediately in the oven at its highest setting, 250°C in most consumer ovens or 350°C in some higher-end models. This initial searing for the first 30 minutes allows the heat to penetrate the bird quickly. Baste, then slow roast with a foil tent at 150°C for the next 90 minutes. Then baste again and brown the skin by bringing the temperature up to 175°C uncovered for the final 30 minutes until crispy.
Remember to rest the duck at least 30 minutes before scooping out the stuffed rice and carving the bird. I like to garnish with cherry tomatoes, which I think is a simple but refreshing complement to the richly flavoured duck.
- 1 duck about 2.2kg
- 1½ tbsp coarse black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- For stuffing:
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 6 cloves
- 1 cup hazel nuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bulb yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 150g cocktail sausages, diced
- 5g fresh rosemary, plucked
- 5g fresh thyme, plucked
- 15g fresh parsley, chopped
- zest from 1 orange
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp salt
- For basting:
- juice from 1 orange
- For gravy:
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- For garnish:
- 1 cup red cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
- parsley, rosemary and thyme
- Clean the duck of any internal organs, pluck out the feather stubble, and thoroughly dry the inside and outside of the duck with kitchen towels.
- Place the duck on a rack in a tray and allow to dry uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, pat dry any wet spots inside and outside of the duck. Trim off the feet, head and neck, being careful to keep the neck skin intact. Cut off the duck rump and discard it.
- Rub salt and pepper all over the outside and inside of the duck, then set aside.
- Remove big pieces of fat from around the tail and neck cavities and place them in a frying pan. Render the duck fat over low to medium heat until all the oil is drawn out, then remove the crispy cracklings, leaving the liquid fat in the pan.
- In the duck fat, temper the cinnamon and cloves until fragrant. Then add the hazelnuts and fry until lightly golden. Add the rice and toss until dry and fragrant.
- Vacate a space in the centre of the pan and pour in olive oil. Add the onions to the oil and sauté until wilted.
- Add the garlic and sausages and sauté until fragrant, followed by the herbs and orange zest.
- Add one cup chicken broth and toss until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Finally, add salt to taste before stuffing into the duck.
- Starting with the tail end of the duck, scoop the rice into the duck until lightly packed. Seal the cavity with toothpicks and tie them up with kitchen twine. Repeat with the neck end until all the rice is stuffed into the duck.
- Place the duck bones and scraps on the bottom of a roasting pan, then place the stuffed duck on a rack over the roasting pan. Pour chicken broth and water into the pan and roast in a 250°C oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and baste the duck with orange juice, pouring the remainder over the duck being careful not to leave any orange sacs on the skin. Loosely tent the duck with foil and continue roasting at 150°C for 90 minutes. Remove the foil and baste again with pan drippings. Then continue roasting uncovered for a final 30 minutes at 175°C.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes before carving. In the meantime, pour the pan juices together with the bone scraps into a saucepan scraping all the roasted bits from the sides and bottom of the roasting pan. Reduce the gravy until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Strain the gravy with a wire mesh and skim the oil off the top.
- Place the duck on a serving dish and remove the kitchen twine and toothpicks from the duck with kitchen shears. Garnish the duck with tomatoes and fresh herbs and serve with warm gravy.