Don’t let the name turn you off from this recipe. If you aren’t familiar with Gochujang, it’s simply a fermented mixture of soybean paste, chili powder, salt and rice. It is, at the same time, sweet, salty, spicy and savory. It makes an excellent flavoring for any type of upland bird, wild turkey or waterfowl. You can find it at most Asian groceries, some larger grocery stores, or order online. It’s a handy thing to keep in the pantry.
We love to rub a fat, skin-on, midwestern mallard with a mixture of Gochujang and fresh lime juice, then roast it with fingerling potatoes in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet.
To evenly roast the duck without overcooking it, we spatchcock, or split it down the backbone and then fold it out flat before we roast it.
For crispy skin, we use a second skillet, slightly smaller than the first, wrapped in foil and pre-heated, as a press to rest on top of the duck as it cooks.
For maximum flavor, we roast the potatoes in duck fat, either saved from previous roasted ducks or purchased at the grocery. If you don’t have duck fat, substitute lard or even vegetable oil for the initial cooking time of the potatoes.
1 large, mild duck, like a mallard, skin-on
3 tablespoons Gochujang paste
2 whole limes
Salt and pepper
1 pound of fingerling potatoes, washed
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves.
2 tablespoons duck fat, lard or vegetable oil
Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the bottom of the smaller skillet in aluminum foil.
Add the duck fat to the 12-inch skillet, and add the potatoes. Use the flat side of a cleaver or chef’s knife to lightly crush the garlic cloves. Remove the peel. Add the peeled garlic to the potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then place into the oven for 30 minutes to partially cook the potatoes so that they and the duck finish at the same time. Add the foil-covered skillet to the oven at the same time to pre-heat.
While the potatoes cook, use a sharp knife or a pair of heavy kitchen shears to remove the backbone of the duck. Save it for stock. Grasp the duck in both hands, breast-side up, place your thumbs at the center of the breast, and lift the outer sides of the duck up while simultaneously pushing down on the center of the breast with your thumbs. The result will be a flat, or spatchcocked, duck.
Dry the skin well and season lightly with salt and pepper. Rub the entire surface of the duck, top and bottom, with the Gochujang paste. Set the duck aside.
Once the potatoes have cooked for 30 minutes, remove them from the oven and use a fork to lightly crush each fingerling potato just enough to break the skin so that the flavorful duck fat makes its way deep into the potato. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees.
Carefully move the potatoes into a ring around the outer edge of the skillet, leaving the center open. Place the seasoned duck, skin-side up, into the center of the skillet. Halve the limes and squeeze the juice over the duck.
Return the skillet to the oven and place the second skillet directly atop the duck so that it presses on the skin. Close the oven door and cook for an additional 20 minutes until the thickest part of the duck breast reads about 140, for medium-rare to medium.
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