- 1 4- to 5-pound duck
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup soy sauce, more or less
- roasting pan
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove giblets and neck from duck cavity and discard or reserve for another use. Cut off excess fat from duck cavity.
- Place duck, breast side down (wings up), on a rack in a roasting pan; add water to come just below the rack. [NOTE: several commentators mention that water tends to steam the duck and prevent it crisping up. They recommend a layer of potatoes and carrots instead to cook in the duck fat.] Sprinkle duck with pepper and brush with a little soy sauce.
- Roast 30 minutes, undisturbed. Prick the back all over with point of a sharp knife, then flip bird onto its back. Sprinkle with pepper and brush with soy sauce again. Add a little more water to the pan if the juices are spattering (carefully–you don’t want to get water on the duck).
- Roast 20 minutes, then prick the breast all over , and brush with soy sauce. Roast 10 minutes; brush with soy sauce. Roast 5 or 10 minutes more if necessary, or until duck is a glorious brown all over and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh measures at least 155 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before carving and serving.
There are four challenges to roasting a duck by the simple method given here:
- The first is spattering. All that fat can make a mess of your oven. But the solution is simple: keep a thin layer of water in the roasting pan. The fat drips into it and stays there. (You’ll need a rack to elevate the duck, but you should be using one for a crisp bird anyway.)
- The second challenge is to achieve a uniformly brown color. I cheat a little bit here and brush the roasting duck with soy sauce, which works like a charm.
- The third challenge lies in the carving; a duck is a little more complicated than a chicken. The best way is to cut on either side of the rib cage to remove the two breast halves, then cut the legs off the carcass. The rest is for picking.
- Finally, there’s the basic challenge of having enough to go around, for a roast duck can easily be finished by two people. If you want to serve four, roast two, or plan on a lot of side dishes.