I cannot keep secret my general dislike of chicken. I cook with it on occasion, but more as a filler protein than the main component of my meal. I know that generally chicken is pretty good for you as far as animal protein is concerned. But the flavor is so bland and specific to me, and the product overused.
Thus, I find myself constantly in search of chicken substitutes. This is how I became engrossed in learning how to prepare duck. Unlike chicken, duck strikes me as having a very complex flavor. While chicken is great at yielding to spices in curries and sauces, highlighting the cultural flavors, duck asks to be complimented. It doesn’t always yield – but it certainly rises to the challenge.
I enjoy a challenge, especially when pairing flavors. It’s also nice to be able to offer an alternative to pork and beef in a recipe.
This recipe is really a whole meal. The beauty is that this meal can be as easy or difficult as you want it to be. I personally love the feeling when everything in my meal was coaxed together with my own two hands. Sometimes that’s far too much work, however.
The duck is the key to this meal. I got mine from Kellie Brook Farm after an awesome reader pointed me in their direction. Tim and Kellie Rocha are wonderful farmers, and when I told Kellie I’d be writing about cooking her duck, she jokingly insisted I let everyone know “His name was Quack.”
One of the many reasons I like being able to talk to my farmer.
If you don’t want to put all the effort into making a sauce, and the cute little Chinese scallion pancakes, I know you can buy both at most major grocery stores. The pancakes are usually in the frozen section and heat up quite nicely. Plum sauce or duck sauce can be found in the international food aisle.
I’m a bread baking junkie – it totally focuses me and mellows me out. So I love making doughs from scratch. Not everyone is this nutty.
But, individually, none of these recipes are too hard – I just want to recognize that they can be a lot all at once.
Duck Sandwiches in Little Chinese Scallion Pancakes
- 3 – 5 lb Duck
- Tablespoon Cinnamon
- Tablespoon Cloves
- Tablespoon Chili Powder
- Tablespoon Ginger
- Tablespoon Fennel
- 1 Ginger Root
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Mix all the spices together. Rub the entire duck inside and out, first with salt and then with the spice mix. Cut off an end of the ginger and rub it on the duck. Roughly chop the ginger and stuff the duck with it.
Place the duck on a roasting pan. Insert in the oven for an 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the duck. Check on it throughout, pricking the skin a few times to let out excess fat. You want to internal temperature to be around 160. For the last 15 minutes crank the temperature up to 400 to get the skin nice and crispy.
Remove the duck from the oven. Once it has cooled enough use two forks to pick the meat off the bones. I like to mix the skin in with the meat. Depending on how many people you’re feeding you can either pick off all the meat and discard the carcass, or just pick half of the meat and freeze the rest to make soup later on. I’ll be doing the latter!
Set aside the meat in a nice serving dish.
- A nice handmade jam – I used peach raspberry for this particular recipe
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Dollop a four or five generous spoonfuls of jam into a small saucepan. Add the soy sauce and the chili powder. Mix it all up and set over a medium heat. Let it get nice and bubbly before bring down the temperature to low. Let it reduce until you have a nice thick sauce – which might not be long depending on the type of jam you use. Make sure to taste it and make any adjustments! Your sauce should be a little bit salty, but primarily nice and sweet with a chili kick.
The Scallion Pancakes
I love these pancakes. I got the recipe for them at Serious Eats, whom I think does a really good job showing how to make them. I swapped out about a cup of whole wheat bread flour for part of the white flour to give them a little more substance. Also, when I went to fry them, I brushed each side with a little of the duck fat from the roasting pan that I had just pulled out of the oven. Delicious!
Scallions are abundant right now, so get them from your local farmer! New garlic would also be a totally awesome substitute.
Once you’ve made everything the pancakes are easy to construct. I like putting a little bit of veg such as pea shoots, radish shoots, or bean sprouts. They’re perfect finger food, and very filling!