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Duck on menu for tonight but just realized need help!!!

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Help! I had a whole duck in the freezer and decided to use it tonight, found a yum sounding recipe: "grilled duck with port wine plum sauce"...it called for duck breasts and I figured I could just double the rub and do the whole bird (it's ok if it takes longer, we'll just sit by the fire with cocktails and snacks!). However, I've never cooked (much less grilled) duck before and didn't realize it can be so complicated until I started checking online cooking times, etc. Has anyone grilled a whole duck before? We have a charcoal kettle grill - any tips,etc are welcome, as well as how to prepare the duck (aside from the rub, etc. It seems there are two opposing camps out there - remove or not remove the skin, etc.....Pardon my ignorance, I'm usually quite capable in this department but Daffy threw me for a loop! Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. I've never cooked a whole duck on the grill either but I think I would butterfly the sucker and cook it under a brick over indirect fire. I'd leave the skin on cause it will get crispy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sparkareno

      thank you! Sounds good, and manageable!!! I was also thinking of using the beer can chicken thing, without the beer ....I've never used it before but we have one....any thoughts on that method?

      1. re: awiley

        I don't know--i'm not a big fan of beer can chicken for some reason--kind of meh. I grill butterflied chicken on my weber this way ALL the time & it always is amazing. plus by doing it over indirect over a drip pan you minimize the chance of flare ups. Be sure to use some smoke chips too.
        Sounds yummy---i might have to go get a duck!

    2. I agree with Sparkareno that you should butterfly it. I'd also suggest pricking the skin and steaming it first, to minimize the fat content. (Otherwise your grill area could get dangerous.)

      Here's an excerpt from a recipe for steamed and roasted duck:

      Duck is notoriously a fatty bird. To diminish the fat and produce a crispy skin, begin by trimming the excess fat from the neck and body. Rinse the duck, inside and out, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Combine the flavoring ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the duck, inside and out. Stuff the duck cavity with any aromatics (onion, garlic, ginger, etc.) Fold the wing tips back under the duck and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Poke the duck breast a few times, piercing the skin.
      Place a roasting pan on the stovetop over 2 burners and fill with 2-inches of water, turn the heat to medium. Set a V-rack insert inside the pan and lay the duck on the rack, breast-side up. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Steam the duck for 45 minutes, checking the water level periodically. Steaming the duck first melts away some of the fat and shrinks the skin.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Euonymous

        Thank you both, Sparkareno and Euonymous! I will butterfly, steam then grill!! Crisis averted ! (well, so far. We'll see how the actual cooking process goes!)

        1. re: awiley

          be sure to report back. I am lazy so I would skip the steaming step. I've cooked duck in the oven & never done that. Plus I think the fat will drip off while grilling. But like I said, I'm lazy.

      2. In case you check back here, make sure you have a 2 level fire, meaning a cool side and a hot side, because the duck is going to flare up quite a bit when the fat starts rendering out of it. Be ready with a spray bottle of water and tongs to move the duck. Definitely butterfly the duck, heck I'd even go so far as to splitting it completely in half and maybe separate the breasts from the leg quarters, they'll cook at different rates.

        2 Replies
        1. re: John E.

          Hi all, Thanks again for the advice and suggestions! Duck came out great! I steamed it for about 40 minutes (but I think Sparkareno was right - I could have probably skipped this step), then butterflied it and spread the rub on. Rub was a combo of smoked sea salt, kosher salt and brown sugar. Then onto the grill, indirect heat for about 40 minutes. No flareups, but I was prepared just in case! It did require some maneuvering back and forth to make sure cooking was even. Served it with a port wine-plum sauce (grill plums, then simmer with port wine, shallot, sugar, smoked sea salt), and roasted garden veggies. It was delicious! The only change I would make is to use less rub - the duck skin was perfect but way too salty in some spots so that was disappointing. Thanks again!

          1. re: awiley

            awiley----thanks for the report. Your dinner sounds amazing. You've inspiried me to try grilling a duck now and I am so stealing your plum sauce. It sounds delicious.