The taste of a wild duck depends on where they lived and what they ate. Shallow water duck such as mallards, teal and wigeons will taste the best, with a nice, succulent flavour, as they feed on local grains. When a wild duck is overcooked, it will develop a gamy taste, similar to a strong liver flavour. You can cook a wild duck without it tasting gamy by cooking it until it is medium-rare. Medium-rare duck will be firm, pink and slightly bloody.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Paper towel
- Meat thermometer
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Roasting pan with roasting rack
- Fresh rosemary sprig
- 1 apple
- Paring knife
- 4 cloves
- 1 white onion
Turn on your oven to 218 degrees Celsius and preheat it 10 to 15 minutes.
While your oven is preheating, gently run your hands along the skin of the duck to feel for pin feathers. Pin feathers are white, hard, slightly sharp and very short. If you come across any, pinch them between your thumb and forefinger and pull them out. You may have to press your other hand's thumb into the skin just under the pinfeather to push it out a bit while you pull to remove them.
Rinse the duck off with water and pat its skin dry with paper towel. Cut an apple into quarters with a paring knife. Push four even-spaced cloves, stick end first, into the skin of the apple. Peel an onion and cut off a small 1-inch wedge. Insert the apple with cloves into the cavity of the duck along with a sprig of rosemary and the onion wedge.
Pour a quarter-sized amount of olive oil into the palm of your hand and rub it all over the skin of the duck. Then sprinkle a large pinch of Kosher salt over the duck so that it adheres to the skin. Set the duck with its breast facing up on the centre of the roast rack of your roasting pan. Put the roasting pan on the middle rack of your oven. Turn down the oven's heat to 218 degrees Celsius.
Bake the duck in the oven for 10 minutes. Pull it out and insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the duck. If it doesn't read 57.2 degrees Celsius, put the duck back in the oven for 3 minutes and check it again. Some ducks may need up to 25 minutes to cook, but don't rely solely on timing it, as it can quickly overcook. Let the duck sit for 15 minutes before carving it to let the juices settle into the meat.
Tips and warnings
- You can also try butterflying the duck and cooking it on a hot grill for ten minutes on one side and five on the other.
- Eating rare and medium-rare meat may cause you to contract a food-borne illness.
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