Archive for January 20th, 2012

When the first direction in a recipe calls for a bicycle pump, you know you’re in for a good time. If anyone asks why you’re laughing, your response will be that ducks have a fat problem. Which is true enough; they have a lot of it, and you want to get rid of most of it before anyone takes a bite, but you also want it to hang around long enough to flavor the duck and keep it moist. The best method is to create a channel between the fat and the meat that gives the fat an escape route as it melts and continually bastes the meat while it’s cooking. That’s where the bicycle pump comes in. By inserting the needle of the pump just under the fat in the skin, you can force air under the fat, and presto, you’ve got your channel. It is best to use a hand pump, since a standing pump is ungainly. If you have a marinade injector, that works too, although it takes a little longer.

Prep: 30 minutes Dry: 2 hours
Grill: About 1 hour.

– Small bicycle pump with a needle attachment, or a marinade injector
– Kitchen twine
– Electric fan
– Roasting rack
– Disposable aluminum foil roasting pan.

Indirect heat, medium (325° to 350°F)
3- or 4-burner grill–middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill–1 side off
Clean, oiled grate
Indirect heat, medium ash
Split charcoal bed (about 2 dozen coals per side)
20 replacement coals
Heavy-duty drip pan set between banks of charcoal
Clean, oiled grate on high setting.

For the duck:
1 Long Island duckling, about 4½ pounds, visible fat removed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon Chinese chili paste with garlic
1 clove garlic, minced
For the chutney:
8 large, moist dates, such as Medjool, pits removed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger root
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
¼ teaspoon Chinese chili paste with garlic
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 scallions, roots trimmed, thinly sliced.

1. Extend the plunger of the bicycle pump. Insert the needle just  under the skin at the neck end of the duck. Depress the plunger,and the skin around the needle will puff up. Continue to pump air under the duck skin in the same way until the skin has been separated from the meat all over the breast and legs.
2. Heat a kettle of water to boiling. Put the duck, breast-side up, in a strainer set in a sink. Pour the boiling water over the duck. Hook a chopstick under the wings of the duck to hold them away from the body. Tie a string tightly around the neck and hang the duck over a sink or a large drip pan. Place an electric fan in front of the duck and blow air directly on it for about an hour to dry the skin.
3. Mix the soy sauce, honey, chili paste, and garlic in a small bowl. Brush over the duck and dry in front of the fan for another hour.
4. Heat the grill as directed.
5. Put the duck, breast-side up, on a rack set in the disposable roasting pan. Put on the grill away from the heat, cover the grill, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°F, about 1 hour. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 350°F.
6. While the duck is grilling, prepare the chutney. Chop the dates finely and mix with the remaining ingredients. Set aside; the mixture will thicken as it sits.
7. Remove the duck to a large serving platter. Let rest for 8 to 10 minutes; carve as you would a chicken and serve with chutney.

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