- 1 whole Muscovy duck (about 4 pounds)
- 4 tsp. salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 lemon, cut into 8 slices
- 2 Tbsp. plus ½ cup California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
- 8 large plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 1 pinch saffron (about 8 threads)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ¼ lemon)
- 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Rinse the duck under cold water and pat very dry with paper towels.
Place the duck on a cutting surface with the breast side up and split it in half between the two breasts. Open the duck up, prying it open with your hands. Lay the duck flat with the rib side down, so that the skin side is facing up. Press on the duck legs with the palms of your hands so that you crack the bones a little, causing the duck to lay flat. Do the same with the breasts, making the duck as flat as possible. Trim off the tail part (it contains glands that are very bitter) and discard.
Trim the excess fat from the neck and discard it or reserve it for something else. Discard the liver, kidney, and neck meat or reserve it for something else.
Season the duck with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper. Turn the duck over and season the other side with the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and more black pepper.
Place the duck skin side up into a very large roasting pan or heavy baking sheet with sides (the duck fat and juices will drip while roasting, so you need a pan that can catch the juices). The duck will be laying flat.
Tuck the lemon slice under the ribs in the empty cavity. It’s okay if they rest between the duck and the roasting pan.
Rub the skin side of the duck with 2 tablespoons of the California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil and place it in the oven to roast. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and roast the duck for 45 to 55 minutes, until the skin is crispy and the juices run clear from the leg when pierced. Remove the duck from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving and serving.
While the duck is roasting, make the jam. Simmer the tomatoes in a large sauté pan over low heat, adding the remaining ½ cup of California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil, saffron, and salt and pepper and simmer for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes are very soft. Stir in the honey, lemon juice, ginger and sesame seeds.
To carve the duck, remove the legs from the carcass and cut each leg into two between the joints of the thigh and bottom leg piece. Remove the breast meat from the carcass using your hands and a knife to pull the meat away from the bones. Trim off the wings. Slice each breast into 4 equal pieces. Discard or reserve the roasted bones for stock.
Skim off the fat that rises to the top of the roasting pan; you may have as much as 1 inch to remove. Place the roasting pan with the lemons over a medium flame and add ½ to 1 cup of water. Using a spoon, scrape the bits of stuck sugars from the bottom of the pan and bring the liquid to a simmer for just a minute.
Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and pour it back into the roasting pan. If the duck needs to be warmed before serving, you can place it in this glazy juice with the skin side up, so that the duck skin doesn’t simmer in the sauce and get soggy. Heat the duck for about 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
Serve each guest two slices of breast meat and a half of a leg and pass around the bowl of tomato-sesame jam.
Chef’s Note: The smell of a roasting duck drives me wild with anticipation, but I often find the consistency of roasted duck to be too rich. When I created this recipe, I was playing with condiments that would cut through the duck’s richness. The North African spice tones, acidity of the tomato, spiciness of the ginger, and sweetness of the honey in this tomato-sesame jam do just that. Duck is as easy to make as roasted chicken. I prefer Muscovy duck because the meat is larger than that of a Peking duck; when you roast the Muscovy duck whole, the breasts and legs cook in equal time. (You can buy Muscovy ducks online from Grimaud Farms and other purveyors.) The tomato-sesame jam, inspired by the flavors of North Africa, is an excellent condiment for any roasted meat, including pork and rich fish, such as salmon. The idea is to cook the tomatoes as slowly as possible in olive oil over low heat so that they melt and become sticky, like jam or stewed fruit. The saffron, freshly grated ginger, and loads of sesame seeds add color, brightness, and texture.
Recipe courtesy of Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun (Regan Books, 2006)