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May 17, 2014 06:43 AM

Quick drying duck?

I got a new grill for Mother's Day, complete with a rotisserie. I would love to spit roast a duck this evening, but didn't plan ahead. I don't have the 12-24 hours required by most recipes for seasoning and drying. Unfortunately, due to our schedules in the upcoming weeks, if it's not tonight, it'll be sometime in July.

Does anyone know of a method that will make the duck suitable for the spit in short order?

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  1. You don't have the time to dry the duck. (I'm assuming it's fresh/unfrozen when you buy it). You have to dry the bird in the fridge. Just buy a fresh duck. Pat dry it as best you can. Rub the seasoning/s on it and put it on the rotisserie. For an 'broken glass' crispy skin make the shallow cuts in the skin/fat. Near the end of grilling brush on a thin slurry of Kosher salt and white wine vinegar. Do this a couple of times. The skin will be crispy.

    1. Just set the duck on the counter and set up a fan for a couple of hours. You are safe to do this from 2-4 hours.

      Whatever you do, do *not* pierce the skin. This is the most common advice given and it's the worst idea in the world. The Chinese never pierce the skin -- they inflate it like a balloon, and that's impossible to do if there are holes in it -- and theirs is the crispiest skin ever. Intact skin means you are essentially frying it from the inside where the melting fat has pooled and it's fabulous. Loosening the skin works great if you don't tear it, however. The melted fat will migrate all over the bird, under the skin, as it rotates and should crisp everything up nicely.

      Make sure you are using indirect heat on the rotis so the dripping fat doesn't engulf your bird in flames. Make sure you use a drip pan below the bird.

      Note that with the rotis method you will not end up with rare breats and well-cooked thighs. Probably the opposite.

      1. Fan or use handheld blow dryer set to no-heat.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I was thinking the same thing. It seems like I saw the use of a hair dryer for some such purpose before. Heck, I might would even use heat if it is going right out to the grill.

          1. re: rudeboy

            The hair dryer works great for spot touch up of the places that didn't get completely dry, e.g., a fold of skin.

            If you have one of those heat guns that builders use, I've seen a Chinese chef use one to crisp up the skin on a roast pig.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I have a heat gun from my remodeling days. I'll try it on a chicken first. Great idea, and I love some crispy skin!

        2. Baking powder and salt.

          Coat on skin.

          Dry duck.

          Good to go.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Baking powder indeed will promote browning, but that wasn't the OP's question.

            I think people obsess too much these days about drying duck skin. The technique you describe is one of several options for enhancing the flavor and texture of duck skin. The Chinese technique of separating the skin that someone mentioned above is another. So many recipes these days seem to implore us to dry the skin that people think they will ruin their duck if the don't dry the skin. People have been cooking duck for hundreds of years without drying the skin. Especially since the OP is going to use a rotisserie, I suspect there is no need to obsess over drying the skin. Just use a technique appropriate to rotisserie cooking.

            1. re: LorenzoGA

              Actually, I suspect that the need to dry the skin is more of a modern phenom due to ducks at the market being packed in plastic bags that collect condensation, displayed on ice or sold frozen and defrosted. The skin on poultry that has been freshly killed and NOT chilled in an ice bath is fairly dry. Duck that I purchase from a grocer that displays them hanging by the neck in the chiller box is already dry.

              The results I get with skin that is dry, be it chicken, duck or turkey, tell me it's worth obsessing about. No, you won't ruin the duck if you don't start with dry skin. It will just be different.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Agree. I absolutely have to have crispy skin on duck, primarily because I was spoiled early on by a Chinese restaurant. It seemed like they separated the skin, roasted the duck, then chopped and flash fried to order. Phenomenal.

                I did a turkey for Xmas, separated the skin almost completely, stuffed herbs and spices under, and then roasted high then low. One of the best ones that I made and with nice crispy skin.

              2. re: LorenzoGA


                Not just browning.

                Drying, and crispiness, first and second most.

                Browning sort of a distant fifth consideration.