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This can be done at home… By anyone

If you follow me on Twitter @FineArtFood, you’ll recall that earlier today I tweeted that I wanted to go more in-depth with the Peking Duck tonight.

After having done this, and thought about it, I think anyone could do it in their own home.  Really the biggest part of the entire process is planning when and how to do things.  I guess the best way to explain how to make this supposed complicated dish at home, is to go through the steps I took.  I’ll assume that you have the ingredients:  duck, 5 spice, garlic, limes, coriander,  white pepper, Szechuan pepper (because I like the floral element) and maltose.

Step 1:  Separate the skin from the meat of the bird.  Work your hand and fingers between the meat and skin all around.

Step 2:  Repeatedly dip the bird into boiling water ten or twelve times.  Don’t hold it in the water, just dip it and pull it out.  Since it doesn’t render out any of the fat I don’t see the real purpose of this step, but it’s traditionally how its done.

Step 3:  Dry the bird.  No, don’t just pat it dry with paper towels.  I stood my bird up on a vertical roaster in a bowl and let it drain for at least 6 hours, 24 would have been better.

Step 4:  Make your spice mix and stuffing mix.  Spice mix consists of 5 spice, coriander, white pepper, and Szechuan pepper.  Stuffing mix is about one-third of the spice mix, roughly chopped garlic, and chopped up limes.  Stuff the stuffing mix into the body cavity and sew it closed.  Now rub the rest of the spice mix all over the bird.  Set in a colander and return to the refrigerator for another couple of hours.  You want the spices to dry and pull some more of the moisture out of the bird.

Step 5:  Mix up your maltose with water in a bowl big enough to submerge the bird.  Bring out the bird and dip it into the maltose mixture.  Don’t worry about it, you’re going to rinse off all that spice mixture you rubbed on but that’s ok.

Step 6:  Break out the blow dryer, hang the bird above the sink, and use the blow dryer to dry the skin of the bird.  When the bird is dry, repeat step 5 and 6 another two or three times.   This step takes at least an hour to get the bird’s skin good and dry.

Step 7:  Once the bird is dry and the skin is taught, its time to cook.  If you have a box or barrel type smoker, get a good hot fire going inside, figure out how to hang the bird inside and let it cook.   If you’ll be using the oven, a shallow pan with a rack is better than a roasting pan.  Either way cook at 300 degrees F for at least 2 hours, probably more, until the interior is 160 to 165 degrees F.

There you have it.  Really not all that difficult.  Start to finish, you should be able to get this bird on the table in a minimum of twelve hours.  Yes, not something you’re likely to do in one day, but you can do steps 1, 2 and 3 the night before and have a very, very tasty dinner the next day.  Unless of course you’re me, then you get up and start the whole thing at 5:30 am for dinner at 6 ish.

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