Food business idea: Long Island roast duckling is part of the regional cuisine of eastern Long Island, New York stemming from Long Island’s thriving duck-farming industry which began in the late 19th century.
According to Alton Brown, host of the Food Network’s Good Eats, duck farming got its start on Long Island after an American businessman touring China in 1873 bought 25 white pekin ducks and shipped them to Long Island. Only nine survived the trip but those nine reproduced quickly and their descendants eventually found themselves on Long Island’s numerous duck farms.
White pekins (also called Long Island pekins) now represent 95 percent of the ducks sold and consumed in the US and are raised on farms in many parts of that country.
According to Brown, many people shy away from cooking whole ducks because of their high fat content. Fortunately, there are cooking methods for removing the excess fat.
White pekin meat has a mild flavor and, if served skinless, is lower in fat and calories than skinless chicken breast. Farmers slaughter these birds after six to eight weeks of growth when the meat is at its most tender.
There are two recipes below. The first utilizes a vertical roasting method to drain the fat away from the duck. The second is a more conventional roasting method based on the one featured on The City Cook website.
Both recipes serve three to four people depending on the size of the duck.
1 whole pekin duckling (3-6 lbs, 1 1/2 – 3 kg)
salt and pepper
butter flavored nonstick spray
1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Rinse and wipe duckling, removing giblets.
3. Set bird aside in an airy place to allow the skin to dry.
4. Rub inside cavity with salt and pepper.
5. Insert vertical oven roaster (used for “beer can chicken”) into bird and prop it upright.
6. Coat bird on all sides with butter-flavored spray and sprinkle salt and pepper lightly over the skin.
7. Place bird and vertical roaster into a large roasting pan (use a wire rack insert if you have one) and add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan.
8. Leave bird in oven for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 F until done. No need to prick skin or baste bird, as the fat slowly renders off leaving a wonderful crispy skin. Keep the bottom of the roasting pan covered with water to prevent smoking.
9. Pour off fat and save, reserving drippings and liquid from the roasting pan. (The fat and liver can be cooked together to make a very tasty paté so don’t throw any of it out.)
Serves 3 to 4 depending on the size of the duck.
1 whole pekin duckling (4 – 5 pounds, 1.8 – 3.6 kg)
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 orange, cut into quarters or eighths
1. Defrost the duck if it’s frozen. (Most are sold frozen.)
2. Remove the giblets and any packages from the body cavity.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 375º F and place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
4. Rinse the duck and pat it dry both inside and out with paper towels.
5. Pierce the skin every half inch with prongs, pushing the prongs through the skin and into the fat but not into the meat. The fat will escape through these holes as the duck cooks.
6. Rub plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper on the skin. Then place two pieces of lemon and two to four pieces of orange inside the duck’s cavity.
7. Tie the duck’s legs together with a piece of butcher’s twine. This will keep the citrus inside the cavity.
8. Place the duck breast side up on a rack that has been placed on a roasting pan. It’s important to use a roasting pan that has some depth so the fat drips into the pan and not the oven.
9. Push a meat thermometer into one of the thighs.
10. Place the bird on the center rack of the oven. It will cook in an hour to 90 minutes depending on its size.
11. Remove the duck every 20 minutes from the oven and drain the excess fat. Rotate the duck each time you return it to the oven to help it crisp evenly.
12. You’ll know it’s done when the skin is golden brown and crispy. Also, the meat thermometer should read no lower than 165º F.
13. Remove the bird from the oven. Pour out the liquid from the cavity and discard.
14. Allow the duck to rest for ten minutes before carving.
– Serve with brown rice, rice pilaf or baked sweet potatoes.
– Use the duck fat to cook sliced potatoes or to make duck confit.
1 Info on American duck farming on the Food Reference website
2 Part one of the Good Eats episode titled What’s Up, Duck?
3 Part two of the Good Eats episode titled What’s Up, Duck?
4 Info on white pekin ducks on the Maple Farms website
5 The Mertzer Farms home page
6 The Duck Haven Farm home page
7 The Schlitz Foods home page
8 Info on roasting duck on The City Cook website
9 Info on white pekins on the Food Reference website
10 Roast duck recipe on the City Cook website