I’m just going to come right out and say it. Duck is delicious. That is, when it’s done right. Back when I was in college there was a restaurant just off campus that had glazed duck with a cherry sauce over mashed potatoes on its menu. Since that time it has been one of my dreams to one day replicate that duck recipe. Fast forward more years then I would like to admit, and I came across a recipe for that seemed pretty spot on to the original. I decided to give it a try.
I’m not going to lie… this was not an easy recipe to make. Between the hunt for a whole duck and the dizzying, clear-as-mud directions provided by the original recipe, I almost gave up. But after my first bite, I was sure glad I didn’t.
May I present… Magical Honey Glazed Duck with Cherry Sauce
Ingredients for this amazing meal…
For the Duck
- 1 Whole Duck – Approximately 5 lbs
Like any meat, it is essential to buy your duck from a trusted source. You should be able to located one at a high-end supermarket, at a local butcher shop or at a nearby farmers market. But call ahead. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, and gas, in doing so. In the end, I found my duck from a local meat market/German restaurant called Kuby’s Sausage House. No… it’s not a male dance club, but they do have lots of house made sausage, as well as a wide selection of high quality, very fresh meat.
For the Glaze and Cherry Sauce
- 10-12 sage leaves
- 1 cup of water
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce (I used low sodium, just because I already had it)
- 1 1/2 cups of canned red pitted sour cherries and juice
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Alright, I hope you’re ready. As I said, it’s a bit of a process. I did my best to simplify it here… but trust me, I promise it will be worth the effort.
Make sure your duck is fully defrosted (most stores sell it frozen). Remove the giblets from the inside – you can save these for a fun saute session the next day. Once the duck is no longer frozen, thoroughly rinse it inside and out, under cold running water. Drain any excess water and blot both the inside and outside with paper towels until dry.
Then place the clean, dry duck on a large plate or roasting pan, if it fits in your fridge. Season the duck generously with salt on both sides and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 1-2 hours (2 is better, if you have the time). This will help further dry out the skin.
Before you close the fridge, I recommend you take a moment to morbidly admire the lovely carcass. Send a shout out to Daffy, Donald or even Howard the Duck and thank them for being so delicious.
After 1-2 hours remove the duck from the fridge and cover it with paper towels. While the duck is getting to room temperature, you should start some of the prep work for the glaze and sauce.
Preheat your oven to 415ºF.
Add 10-12 sage leaves (washed) in a small sauce pan along with one cup of water and bring it to a boil. Once it reaches the boiling point, reduce the temperature to low and let it simmer for 7 to 8 minutes. Remove it from the heat, remove the sage leaves and let the water cool.
Once the sage water has cooled, add in 3 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and mix. Once again, bring the mixture to a boil and continue boiling for 7 to 8 minutes, until the mixture becomes slightly syrupy. At this point, it should have reduced to about 2/3 of a cup. When ready, pour a 1/3 of that syrup into a measuring cup and set it aside. Leave the remainder of the syrup in the sauce pan.
Here is where the fun begins. Over the next two hours you will glaze the duck four times and rotate thrice.
First, place the soon-to-be-tasty-tasty duck, breast side down, on a rack and in a roasting pan.
**Have a heat resistant container ready near the oven, because you will need to drain and retain some of the duck juices (aka fat) to use later. But, I recommend you save all of the unused goodness in the container for later. What you don’t use on this recipe will be great for cooking another time. Don’t worry, it’s healthy fat… I think.
Once the oven has reached 415ºF, put the duck in the oven.
Cook for 30 minutes.
Before we move forward, let’s recap. At this point you should have:
- A duck in the oven (breast side down)
- 1/3 cup of the glaze set aside
- 1/3 cup of the glaze still in the sauce pan
- One medium sized, heat resistant container for draining the duck juices
… Back to cooking!
After your duck has been in the oven for 30 minutes, remove it. Make sure to close the oven door to keep the temperature. At this point, you will rotate the duck to breast side up (1st rotation). Use this opportunity to drain the duck juices from the pan into the container you set aside earlier. Place the duck back in the oven and…
Cook for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the duck from the oven, but DO NOT rotate it. Drain the fat into your container.
Next, using the glaze you set aside (not the glaze in the sauce pan), glaze the breast side of the duck (1st glazing). Make sure to get good coverage, but don’t over do it. You still have 3 more glazing’s to go.
Put the duck back in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Once again, remove the duck from the oven and drain the fat. This time, you will rotate the duck back to breast side down (2nd rotation). You will also glaze the back side (2nd glazing) and then place back in the oven.
Cook for another 15 minutes.
Once again, remove the duck from the oven and drain the fat. At this point, you DO NOT rotate the duck, but you will glaze the back side again (3rd glazing). Place the duck back in the oven.
Cook for 15 additional minutes.
Yet again, remove the duck from the oven and drain the fat. Rotate it to breast side up (3rd rotation), glaze breast side (4th glazing) and put the duck back in the oven.
Cook for the final 15 minutes.
… You’re almost there!!
Take the duck out of the oven… make sure you brace yourself or have someone ready to catch you, because at this point it will be breathtakingly beautiful. I mean look at it…
Set the duck aside.
For the sauce, add about 2 tablespoons of the duck juice (sans fat) into the sauce pan with the glaze in it. Next, add 1 1/2 cups of red pitted sour cherries with juice and 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon to the pan.
Stirring gently, bring the sauce to a boil. Keep it boiling for 7 to 8 minutes or until it has slightly thickened. If your sauce doesn’t thicken enough, you can also add between 1/2 to 3/4 of cornstarch to it.
THAT’S IT!! See, that wasn’t so hard. You now have the most amazing duck and cherry sauce. In order to replicate the dish from my college days, I elected to serve mine over mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.
Yeah buddy! Time to eat!
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