Duck is high in fat, so when roasting a whole duck you can end up with a lot of fat left with the duck inside the skin and soggier skin. How should the duck be prepared to avoid this?
Among poultry, duck is exceptionally fatty, and a lot of its fat is directly underneath the skin. This can present a challenge when cooking, because we want the fat to render out and the skin to become crispy and delicious.
The most common way to do this, classically, is to:
- Dock (or less commonly, score) the skin all over, to permit the fat an exit path (when doing this, be careful to cut through the skin into the fat layer, but hopefully not into the meat itself)
- Roast at a relatively low temperature for to permit the fat time to melt and drip away; many recipes then finish on a higher temperature for crisping and browning
Like all poultry, salting the duck a day ahead, and then letting it sit in the refrigerator will also promote crispiness, but it is far less of a factor with duck which cooks and renders for a longer period of time.
I don't like greasy duck and after trying different methods found an indoor rotisserie and an adjustable bladed box cutter to be the solution. The box cutter allows you to make shallow cuts thru the skin only and as the duck turns slowly on the spit the melting fat bastes the duck resulting in a beautiful crispy non-greasy skin. (My mouth waters just thinking about it)
An effective method is to score the skin a bit and then steam the duck until most of the fat has melted, then roast at high temperature. I've seen many claims that this is the method typically used in Chinese and other eastern cuisines, but I can't confirm that from personal knowledge.