And just like that, it’s Thanksgiving weekend… or at least it is here in good ol’ Canada. Yes, we the north are already neck-deep in turkey season, which means it’s time for my annual rant about turkey. You guys know the drill, I accuse the turkey of being a dry and flavorless bird unworthy of its lofty title as THE holiday banquet bird. But not this year. No, I haven’t had a change of heart but why beat a dead horse or turkey for that matter? You all know where I stand and if you don’t give this a read. No, this year I’m going to focus on the positive. And you can’t get much more positive than this Fig Glazed Roast Duck with Fresh Rosemary.
Now, I know that duck might seem like an awkward fit for a holiday built around turkey, but hear me out. There are several good reasons to choose a bird of another feather this Thanksgiving. And the first is availability.
It’s not lost on me that I am bestowing the recipe for this Fig Glazed Roast Duck a mere two days before Thanksgiving. “Together” people likely already have their turkeys defrosting in the sink while their homemade apple cider brine cools nearby. They’re Thanksgiving Pinterest board is slowly and calmly becoming a reality, one perfectly choreographed step at a time. And you know what? That’s great, that’s fine but that’s not who I’m talking to. They most certainly do not need me.
Hey, you! The girl who only remembers to buy beer and sometimes hummus on the way home. I see you, I know you. Bet you forgot all about Thanksgiving? It’s probably too late to add a turkey to your all-important list. Guess you’ll have to give this whole Thanksgiving thing a miss, right? Wrong!
Sure, the turkeys are all snatched up by now by people who remember to put autumn wreaths on their front doors. But you know what the grocery store is still probably lousy with? Duck. Is it likely to be frozen solid? Oh my, yes! Does it take two days to defrost like it’s bulky brother the turkey? No. You could go out right now or even tomorrow morning, grab a duck and be feasting on this Fig Glazed Roasted Duck come Sunday with zero time stress. Also, duck takes a fraction of the time to prep and it doesn’t generate an untenable amount of leftovers, which takes me to my next point. Ducks are smaller than turkeys.
I know it’s not exactly a pearl-clutching-revelation, but ducks have less meat on their bones. The smallest turkey you’re liable to find is 7 pounds. 7! And those slight birds are hard to come by. You’re much more likely to find a bird weighing in at 12 pounds, which is a lot of meat. That means if you’re not hosting hoards of friends and family, you will be eating leftover turkey for longer than you’d like. One duck feeds roughly two people with a reasonable amount of leftovers. And if you have more than two mouths to feed and less than fifteen, pick up a couple more ducks. They will roast alongside each other quite happily.
Finally, the prep for this Fig Glazed Roast Duck is easy. Duck’s don’t require brining and they certainly don’t need butter stuffed under their skin. Duck meat is flavorful au naturale and it’s encased in lots of fat that keeps it moist throughout the roasting process. And when all is said and done, you’ll have a roasting pan full of rendered duck fat that you can fry potatoes in for breakfast the next morning. Duck fat – it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
So, whether you spaced on the date or you’re hosting a small, intimate Thanksgiving this year, this Fig Glazed Roast Duck has got your back. And when you’re frying those duck fat home fries, hungover from the frivolity of the night before, the true genius of your decision will firmly set in.
Fig Glazed Roast Duck with Fresh Rosemary
- Roaster with Rack
- 1 duck
- 1 tbsp salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 figs quartered
- 1/2 cup port
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 2 bay leafs
- 8-10 allspice berries
- 8-10 green peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Preheat the oven to 300°F
- Trim any excess fat around the cavity of the duck and remove the neck and giblets. Freeze for use in a future stock.
- Pat the exterior and interior cavity of the duck dry. Using a sharp knife, score the skin on the breast in a crosshatch pattern, taking care not to cut through to the meat. Rub the salt all over the duck and inside the cavity, taking time to work it into every nook and cranny. Repeat this step with the pepper and place the duck, breast-side-up, on a v-rack inside a large roasting pan. Pop the duck into the oven and roast for 1 hour.
- Once the first hour has elapsed, take the duck out of the oven and carefully flip it so it is breast-side-down. Return the duck to the oven and roast for another hour. Once the hour is up, reorient the duck so it is facing breast-side-up once again. Place it back in the oven and roast for 15 minutes more.
- While the duck is roasting, pour the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Add the figs and let cook undisturbed until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Pour the port and honey over the figs and add the rosemary, bay leaves, allspice berries, peppercorns, and cinnamon stick to the pan. Bring the mixture to a rapid simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Let cook until the figs are jammy and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Take the figs off of the heat and remove the bay leaves, rosemary, allspice berries, and cinnamon stick. Transfer the figs to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
- Once the duck has roasted for 15 minutes more, take the duck out of the oven and increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Once the temperature is up, place the duck back in the oven and roast for another 15 minutes or until the skin is golden.
- Take the duck out of the oven and slather it liberally with the fig mixture. Return the duck to the oven and roast for another 5 minutes or until the duck appears shiny and glazed.
- Let the duck rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.