It seems like home chefs are often intimidated by the fancy terms of French cooking: Cordon Bleu, a l’orange, crème brulee…oh la la! It all seems very convoluted, complicated and well, French. It really doesn’t have to be. Yes, there are many dishes in French cooking that are intricate and time-consuming, served in elaborate presentations (and tiny portions), but there is another aspect to the cooking of France that is rooted in its countryside, in the merging of freshly-farmed ingredients, family, comfort and the gathering of the family around the dinner table (with a nice bottle of wine, of course).
A roast duck is one of those dishes. Substitute the word chicken with duck, and you just have a more flavorful and festive version of the family dinner classic. Duck doesn’t take any more preparation that roasting a chicken (we promise), and it’s miles more flavorful, moist, and tender than it’s land-loving cousin. Cooked right, it’s covered with a brown, crispy skin that will make your mouth water just by looking at it. The beauty is that it just looks fancy, while it is in essence a country dish, homey and comforting.
Young Peking ducklings, widely available, are the perfect type of duck for this dish. They’re small, they have an intense duck flavor without gaminess, and they seem to always roast to crispy perfection, the skin crackling at first bite, the tender meat dissolving in your mouth. You can also use Muscovy, Moulard or Long Island ducks as well
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In order to ensure that crispiness, we first need to make sure to remove any excess fat from the duck – fat renders, and even though rendered fat is delicious, too much of it will make the bird soggy. Other than that, the duck almost roasts itself, slowly in the oven, with any seasonings you add to it, the tender potatoes under it absorbing all those delicious fat drippings and flavors until the result is a masterpiece in flavor.
We paired our roasted duck with a zesty peppercorn sauce, with a touch of raspberry vinegar. The sauce is a bit time-consuming, but you can easily take care of it while the duck is roasting. If you’re short of time, you can forgo the sauce and the duck will be superbly flavorful by itself.
View the full Roast Duck With New Potatoes and Peppercorn Sauce Recipe below!