I am obsessed with crispy bird skin. It’s the most delicious part, am I right? I learned this method of cooking duck from my fellow crispy-skin lover and friend Angelo Garro, who starts the duck on the stove top and then finishes it in the oven. The stove-top searing, while messy business, speeds up the necessary rendering process, melting the duck’s substantial subcutaneous fat and ensuring the maximum amount of crackling, golden-brown skin. I put an orange inside the bird as it roasts, a classic combination. I like the way the bright citrus flavors balance the rich gaminess of the bird. For a more pronounced citrus flavor, the roasted fruit can be squeezed on the duck just before serving.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the duck all over and in the cavity with salt and let come to room temperature. Combine the orange zest, peppercorns, and fennel seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and coarsely grind. Set aside.
- Put a large cast-iron pan over high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the duck and sear on all sides until the skin is golden brown and some of the fat has begun to render out from beneath the skin (this is smoky, spattery work—crank up the hood fan or open a window and put on an apron before you begin), about 10 minutes total. Transfer the duck to a plate, remove the pan from the heat, and pour off the fat from the pan, then return the duck to the pan breast side up, and sprinkle the orange zest–spice mixture over the surface and in the cavity.
- Put the orange quarters in the cavity of the duck. Transfer the duck to the oven and roast until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh without touching bone registers 165°F, about 40 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving platter. If you’d like, squeeze the roasted orange over the duck. Carve and serve.
Excerpted from “Home Cooked: Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana,” copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright © 2016 by Brown W. Cannon III.