Peter believes that the best thing to do with a duck is not to confit or oven roast, but to stick it over some white hot coals and let the flames do their thing.
by Peter Richardson on August 23, 2013
Duck is best served hot off the grill. Of course ovens and stovetops can cook it, but hot coals are the best way to do the bird justice. Grilling also makes duck an easy dish to prepare year round, even in the heat of summer. You can cook it outdoors and avoid heating up the kitchen, yet still impress your friends.
Before You Grill
The biggest issue with cooking a duck is the fat. Too much fat can cause the meat to become greasy, so you’ll need to prepare the duck before you get it on the grill.
Your best bet for eliminating the excess fat is to use a sharp knife to poke holes through the skin and fat. Avoid piercing the meat or you will lose the tasty juices and end up with dry meat. The vents should be every inch or so across the entire body of the duck. The holes will allow the fat to drain as it heats up.
While many duck recipes will call for steaming the duck, I believe it is a bad idea. Not only does it pre-cook the meat, but the steaming will prevent the flesh from taking on the hearty smoky taste of the grill. Some barbeques even offer a smoker attachment so you can really get the flavour going without the help of a marinade.
If you can, be sure to set up a drip pan on your grill before roasting a duck. The excess fat will catch fire and can cause the outside of the duck to cook very quickly, while the centre will still be raw. Ideally, you want to roast the bird slowly and keep it moist.
(Editors note: There is also the fact that duck fat is simply amazing and you should save it for other uses.)
Tips for Successful Grilling
Duck is a heavier meat than chicken and will require more time to roast. If you follow regulations and guidelines then the internal temperature must reach 75°C (165°F), but you don’t want to reach this point too quickly. It’s normal to roast the duck for 2-3 hours, depending on size. If done correctly, your duck will be perfectly cooked, with thin, crispy skin.
Your grill heat should not be too high. A good roasting temperature is about 160°C (325°F). Remember that the temperature will be slightly lower if you are using a drip pan, which should only be used with gas or charcoal, never with open flame grills.
It’s also a good idea to leave the top of the grill open. You want to avoid baking the bird. Baking provides a completely different flavour, so it’s important to let the meat roast.
If you are cooking cuts of duck instead of a whole bird, you may want to baste with a marinade to prevent the meat from drying out too much. This can be anything you might feel would taste good. Duck does very well with sweet or alcoholic marinades, such as sweet sherry or cognac.
Grilling a duck is a great way to enjoy fine cuisine on a hot summer day. You’ll keep the house cool and impart a delicious smoky texture into the meat. It can turn an ordinary meal into something extraordinary.
So, don’t let duck remain a winter meal. Take a leap and try cooking some up on your barbeque this summer. You won’t regret it.