Roast Duck with Blueberry Watermelon Sauce

Roast duck is one of those dinner items that will rarely make it to the dining room table.

Duck is a dish that is enjoyed almost exclusively on a special occasion when you are out to eat at a high-class restaurant. For some reason, people tend to shy away from cooking it themselves.

Perhaps it is the allure of savoring the duck when you are out with special friends at that fancy restaurant. Maybe you need to keep duck for those special dinners out because you want to feel sophisticated and not fall into the rut of having people comment on how all you ever get is steak.

If you have ever roasted a whole chicken, you can certainly roast a duck.

I think the problem is that most people are afraid to try and cook duck. Duck is, after all, one of the hardest dishes to cook properly. Everyone knows how dry it can turn out, especially if it is wild duck. On the other hand, I’ve heard countless times about how fatty store-bought ducks are. I guess the rumors must be true — duck must be too hard for the average home cook to prepare. It should be left to the professional chefs in their big commercial kitchens to cook and enjoy only on those momentous nights when we break out our fanciest cloths and venture out to dine with the rich and famous. Yes, I am kidding.

If you have ever roasted a whole chicken, you can certainly roast a duck. Cooking a wild duck does take a little more work to get right but the store-bought duck that most of us will be cooking is easy and delicious. So, the next time you are thinking of roasting a chicken, go ahead and try duck and enjoy.

Roast Duck
1 duck
1 orange with several knife slits
1 piece of butchers twine to tie the duck up
Salt & pepper to season

There will be a flap of skin at the tail that can be cut off and discarded. Remove the neck and organs that are in a bag in the cavity, and after discarding the liver, place the neck and other items in the roasting pan on a rack or egg crate. You want the duck raised on a rack or use a cooling rack in the bottom of the pan so that it is not cooking in the fat that will pool in the bottom of the pan.

Season the duck with a little salt and pepper and place the slit orange into the cavity. Tie the duck as you would a chicken and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for about 2 hours or until the liquid in the cavity is clear with no more blood.

Cut the duck in half length-wise and pull the bones away from the meat. Just before serving, place the duck halves skin side up on a sheet pan and crisp the skin under a broiler for a minute or two.

Blueberry Watermelon Sauce
¼ C sugar
1.5 oz. blueberry schnapps or brandy
1.5 oz. watermelon schnapps
½ C blueberries
½ C small diced watermelon
4 oz. demi

Cook the sugar in a sauté pan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar melts into a deep golden caramel.

Remove the pan from the stove and add the schnapps. Toss in half the blueberries and three-quarters of the watermelon and smash them while the liquid reduces. When the liquid is almost gone, add the demi and bring back up to a low boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add the remaining fruit and it is ready to enjoy.

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Chef Smitty
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. Smitty has been teaching skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for more than 26 years each winter, and spends his summers working for High Sierra Waterski School since 2000. Smitty has been writing his chef column for Tahoe Weekly since 2005.