Roasting a duck whole presents a situation of compromise. In order to fully cook the legs, the breast meat will often overcook. Conversely, cooking the breast meat perfectly will leave the legs slightly underdone and tough. The cooking directions in this recipe will result in breast meat that is slightly pink and very juicy. We recommend serving the breast meat and either returning the legs to the oven for further cooking or, reserving the legs for another preparation such as a braise etc. If you would like the legs fully cooked, continue cooking for an additional 20-30 minutes, however the breast meat will be well-done as a result.
To be prepared in advance either by yourself or your butcher; carefully fold back the skin surrounding the neck in order to expose the forward surface of the breast meat. Remove any large deposits of fat or sinew that may be attached to the skin or neck cavity. Use your fingers to locate the wishbone at the front of the breast. It will be just below the surface of the meat. Using just the tip of a sharp paring knife, trim around the inner and outer perimeters of the wish bone. Hook your finger behind the wishbone and quickly and forcefully yank it back to remove it. Occasionally, the wishbone will break. If this occurs, use kitchen shears to trim away any remaining pieces. Pull the skin back over the neck tightly as possible over the breast meat. Use a piece of butcher’s twine about eighteen inches long to tie the skin tightly and securely around the neck leaving two long “tails”. The tails will be used to hold the duck when blanching it so make sure that the twine is secure and can support the weight of the duck to avoid splashing etc. Select a stock pot large enough to accommodate most of the length of the duck (such as an AllClad Stainless 16 qt.stock pot) and fill it with water. Season the water heavily with salt and bring it to a boil. Carefully lower the duck into the boiling water and hold on to the two ends of the twine securely. Allow the duck to blanch for one minute then lift the duck out of the water and let it drain. Set the duck breast side facing up on a tray lined with paper towels and preferably one with a wire rack inserted within it. When the duck is cool enough to handle rub the interior cavity with about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt then stuff it with he crushed garlic and rosemary sprigs. Tie the ends of the two legs together tightly and trim off the excess twine from both the neck and leg ends. Use kitchen shears to snip off the neck about an inch past where it was tied with twine. Pat the duck dry with paper towels. Refrigerate the duck uncovered in an area of your refrigerator where there is good air circulation. It is best to allow the skin to dry out for at least two days, preferably three. To roast the duck, place the All-Clad Oval Roaster in the center rack of your oven with no racks above it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Remove the duck from the refrigerator, spray the surface of the skin lightly with vegetable oil spray and season lightly with kosher salt. Remove the All-Clad Oval Roaster from the oven and lightly spray the center of the pan with vegetable oil. Set the duck in the center of the pan and immediately return it to the oven. After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to roast for another 15 minutes. Remove the duck from the oven. Remove the duck from the roasting pan and set it on a tray breast side up and allow it to rest. Very carefully, pour out the fat from the pan into a heat proof container then quickly add the onions, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and rosemary to it and stir to distribute the ingredients. Return the pan to the oven. After fifteen minutes, stir the onions and test for doneness (the onions should just be barely cooked through, without crunch but still firm). Continue baking the onions until they are cooked. Once the onions are cooked, add the honey, vinegar and cranberries and stir well to evenly coat them all. Add the duck back to the pan and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the roaster from the oven and sprinkle the pistachios around the onions. Present the duck if desired then carve the duck breasts off and slice them across the narrow width in about 3/8 inch thick slices. Season the duck lightly with a finishing salt such as self gris and serve with the red onion garnish.