My Dad’s birthday was Saturday the 29th, since we don’t live in the same town it sometimes makes birthdays tricky. But this year I decided I would invite him and my mom down for a special birthday lunch. For many years we tried to get my dad a Peking Duck for his birthday or another occasion but it never worked out. When I received a copy of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees and found a recipe for it I knew I was going to have to make it for him sometime. So for lunch, we had Peking duck, my lo mein and pan fried dumplings.
I wasn’t sure how the duck would turn out since it is somewhat of a long process. It has to be air dried in the fridge for at least two days to get all the moisture out of the skin. This helps it get nice and crispy which is the true mark of a Peking duck. It turned out tasting delicious. I served breast meat on simple Chinese pancakes with hoisin sauce, julienned green onions and carrots.
I also decorated and set up a pretty table for the special occasion. I figured why not it is his birthday after all.
For dessert at request of the birthday boy I made a coconut cream pie. Recipe coming next week.
How to make Peking Duck
- First you will need to find a duck either frozen or fresh. Luckily Kroger’s keep them in the frozen section by the whole chickens. Or you can order one from your butcher. If you know a butcher this may be a better option and have them do a little of the prep work.
- Make sure the duck is thawed before starting your prep about 2-3 days before you plan to cook it. You will need to separate the skin off of the meat around the entire body. This helps it dry. I used my hands to get it apart, it takes time and patience but you can get it all separated. Find a spot and stick your fingers in where you are touching the meat with the fat and skin above your hand. Be careful not to tear or puncture the skin. Be sure to do the whole body including the back. I think that this also helps with keeping the skin in a food safety zone since the moisture is not trapped.
- Once the skin is pulled up you will need to seal the bottom skin flaps so that the cavity can hold liquid. I used a chopstick and kind of skewered it shut, a better method would be to use butcher string and a makeshift needle to sew it closed.
- Now you will need to heat about 3 cups of water to boiling. When it hits a boil you need to ladle it over the duck. This will shrink the skin and start the fat rendering process. As you pour the water over you will see the skin sort of suction to the body. Do this until the whole body has taunt skin.
- Then make the sauce in the recipe below. While it is still warm brush over the duck, do this over a pan to collect the runoff and store. This helps give a little flavor. Keep the extra sauce you will need it.
- Let the duck air dry in the fridge sitting on a rack over a cookie sheet. I used a cake pan and a low roasting rack at first and the top was getting dry but the bottom was not getting enough air. When I moved it over to the cookie sheet it started to dry more. I used a cookie cooling rack because it has more lift than my roasting rack and it seemed to work better.
- After 2 days of drying, the skin should feel like a sausage casing and be dry. I gave mine three days just to be sure it was ready. When you are ready to cook make sure it is at room temperature, sit out for about 2 hours before cooking.
- Right before cooking heat extra sauce up to a simmer. Fill cavity with water and sew neck area closed. Then brush again with sauce and try to coat the breast area.
- Cook breast side up at 350 for 15 minutes flip over and cook for another 15 minutes, flip back to breast side up, cook another 15, then turn the oven up to 425 and cook for another 15. Your duck is done when a thermometer reads 160 when inserted into the drumstick. The skin should be crisp.