Born of the Cajun hunting tradition, this recipe was created to highlight large wild mallards. But it also works brilliantly with a farmed Pekin duck. Isaac Toups takes the breasts and legs completely off the carcass, then cuts the breasts into ½-inch slices and separates the thighs from the legs and serves them whole.
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
¼ cup toasted black peppercorns
8 bay leaves
Zest and juice of 4 oranges
2 (12-ounce) bottles amber beer
1 gallon ice water, plus more as needed
1 (2½-pound) Pekin duck (or wild mallard), cleaned
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce (not low-sodium)
- In a stockpot, combine 2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, orange zest and juice, beer, and 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Transfer brine to a 4-gallon, food-safe container or small cooler. Add enough ice water to measure exactly 3 gallons. (It’s important for brines to have an exact salt-to-water ratio.) Add duck and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring halfway through.
- After 24 hours, remove duck and pat dry with paper towels (both skin and inside cavity). Let sit out for 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the salt, ground black pepper, and soy sauce. Rub skin and inside cavity of duck with mixture. Place duck breast-side up in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Roast for 2 hours. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes. You’ll know the duck is done when you pull on the back leg and it starts to come loose.
- Let duck rest, still wrapped in foil, for 10 minutes. Remove duck from pan and transfer fat and jus from roasting pan into a bowl. Skim fat and reserve jus. Slice duck, spoon jus over meat, and serve.
From A Cajun Christmas