Almost all oven-ready ducks are actually ducklings, under six months old. Duck's very flavoursome and fairly rich, so something sharp or fruity to cut through the richness works well. There's no need to add any fat when cooking duck as the fat in the skin will render down during cooking and baste the meat.
Whole ducks can be bought fresh-chilled or frozen. Look for fresh Aylesbury ducklings, Gressingham or the plump-breasted Barbary duck.
Roast ducks on a trivet over a deep-sided roasting tin and expect a large amount of fat to collect under the bird. It's wise to check every hour or so during roasting and pour away the excess fat to prevent it spilling over into the oven. For Chinese-style crispy duck, steam or blanch the whole duck in boiling water before roasting to help crisp up the skin. Duck breasts can be quickly pan-fried or grilled. Duck legs can be roasted like chicken legs, or roasted in duck fat, chilled and preserved in the fat as duck confit.
Article by Louisa Carter
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