Duck Fat - A bad thing?
I love duck, and I cook it at home when I can (which is rarely, because I don't often know what to do with it). So I picked up a couple of legs to while I was grocery shopping, an orange, and some OJ.
I seasoned the legs, seared them, took off what was in the pan with the OJ (about 300mL), put the OJ with the legs, some honey, and a bit of zest from the orange into a baking dish and into the oven, covered for 20, uncovered for another 15 (seemed excessive to me, but the package recommended even longer than that).
The idea was to get a good sear, let it bake in a good amount of OJ so it would stay moist, and then reduce the OJ/sauce into a nice thick almost glaze (hence the covered, uncovered). The problem came about when all of the fat from the duck came out and into my sauce. It really stopped it from reducing, and made it quite fatty/oily (but not in a good way).I tried reducing it in a pan afterward, without the duck, but it just didn't work.
I like duck fat, and have no objections, but in this case it was more of a hindrance than a help. What did I do wrong? Is there something to do to separate the fat away? HELP!
You need to remove the fat before reducing the sauce. If you want to stick close to your recipe, you should spoon it off as it renders: from the pan before adding the OJ and several times during roasting. I normally do so by tipping the pan and removing the fat with a spoon.
Or you can alter the recipe:
- follow Sam's advice; or
- remove the skin before browning (over a somewhat lower heat sans skin), in which case you can roast the seasoned skin until brown and crisp in a dish alongside the leg; or
- leave the skin on, roast covered for, say, 30-35 minutes, then transfer the legs to another dish and return to the oven to finish roasting, uncovered. Meanwhile, degrease and reduce the sauce and use it to baste the roasting legs. Serve any leftover sauce on the side.
You need to score the legs and brown them slowly, allowing the fat to render. Remove the fat and save for other uses. Then you can start adding the OJ, zest, honey, and seasoning--and pop the whole thing in the oven. You should have no problem when you take it out and reduce the sauce.
There are a number of tools that you can use to remove the fat - one is a skimmer that looks like a ladle, which I've never figured out to use properly, the other looks kind of like a measuring cup, but has a long spout that comes out of the bottom, so that you can pour off the jus, without the fat.