Since you cannot race on an empty stomach, we would like to formally kick off the first day of the Peking to Paris motor challenge with a traditional favorite: Peking (Roasted) Duck! The recipe dates back to a manual written by the imperial kitchen inspector of the 1330s, developing into its present incarnation over the course of the Ming Dynasty (14th-17th centuries).
Now, to be perfectly honest, this is a rather
involved recipe... You must begin a day in advance, in order to properly hang and dry the duck, but the whole dish comes together seamlessly!
Peking Duck Recipe
One 4-5 pound whole duck
For the Glaze:
1 piece of ginger, approximately 1 1/2" long, peeled and sliced
12 green onions, white and pale green parts only
3 cups water
5 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice wine
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
Preparing the Duck
The first step involves separating the duckmeat from the skin - for this, we suggest two potential methods to loosen the skin. The first, and more unusual method, is with a bicycle pump! (No, really!) Although, admittedly this sounds strange, it is surprisingly fun and effective! For this method, first insert a clean pin from the pump just under the skin of the breast. Pump up the duck, forcing air between skin and meat and gently separating one from the other. Repeat this process in several places, (namely the breasts, legs and thighs) until skin is fully separated, although it is not necessary to do so along the backside.
The alternate, and more traditional, method is to slip your fingers between the skin and breast meat. Carefully move your fingers around entire breast, completely (albeit gently!) separating skin from meat. Make small cuts at the tops of the legs and insert your fingers completely around legs and thighs until the skin comes away from meat.
Hanging the Duck
Don't discount this step - hanging the duck is an important step that will ensure that the skin of the finished duck will be crispy! To secure the duck for hanging, we used a needle threaded with butcher’s string and inserted it through the tail on either side of the backbone. Tie a secure knot and leave plenty of string to hang the duck.
Hang the duck in a cool, dry place. The temperature should be below 40 degrees F. Be creative! We hung our duck from a pull-down weight machine in our garage. Place a plate below the duck to catch any drippings and allow the duck hang over-night. If you can’t find a cool, dry place to hang your duck, you can dry it in the refrigerator by propping the duck up so that air can circulate around it.
Creating the Glaze
In a wok or a large deep pan, combine all of the ingredients except the cornstarch and water (ginger, water, honey, rice wine, rice vinegar) and bring to a boil. Make sure the cornstarch and water are well-combined and add to the ingredients in the wok. Return the mixture to a boil until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
Holding onto the string used to hang the duck, lower whole bird into the glaze, turning to coat completely. Raise duck and allow to drip for a moment before lowering to coat again. When duck stops dripping, return it to its drying place (the garage, the fridge, etc.) and re-hang. The duck should be hung for at least two more hours and allowed to drip onto a plate or bucket.
Roasting the Duck
While the duck is drying, turn your oven to 350 F degrees.
Place the duck in a roasting pan, breast side up, and add 1" of water to the pan to keep the duck moist as it roasts. Roast duck for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, turning halfway through to allow the skin to brown evenly. When the duck is done, the skin will be a glossy, molasses color and a thermometer inserted into the breast reads at least 165 F degrees.
Once the duck has cooled, begin by removing and preparing the duck skin and meat, cutting legs and thighs away from the body by slicing through the joints. Peel skin from legs and thighs, slicing into thin strips. Remove breast skin in one piece - it should come away easily by sliding your fingers between the skin and meat loosen it. Cut breast skin in half, lengthwise, slicing each piece of breast skin into thin strips. Remove meat from breast bone, legs and thighs and cut into thin strips.
For the Crepes
1/2 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
Pinch of salt
In a food processor, combine the gluten-free flour, milk, lukewarm water, eggs, salt and 2 tablespoons butter, melted, processing until smooth. Pour batter into a pitcher or a container with a pouring lip, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes to thicken.
Heat a non-stick skillet (or seasoned crepe pan) over medium-heat. Melt enough unsalted butter to cover the bottom of the pan. Stir batter and pour 2 tablespoons into the crepe pan, lifting it off heat and tilting so the batter coats the bottom of the pan in a thin, even layer. Cook until the top of the crepe is set and the underside is golden before gently turning the crepe over, allowing the other side is also golden. Remove the crepe to wax paper and proceed to cook rest of crepes, one at a time. Keep crepes warm until ready to serve.
For the Garnish
12 green onions (the reserved white
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
With a sharp paring knife, cut off root ends of the green onions. Make several inch-long cuts along the length of the onion stalks, moving inward from the white end. Put onions in ice water and set aside. (The ends of the green onions will curl as they soak up water and become quite charming brushes.) Next, score the cucumber lengthwise and then cut into thin rounds. Finally, julienne the peppers into 1/8" strips.
For the Dipping Sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup gluten-free hoisin sauce
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
In a small bowl mix all ingredients together, stirring to dissolve sugar. The sauce should be the consistency of thin ketchup and if it is too thick, add a little water.
To Present and Serve
Make a circle of cucumbers around the outside of a large serving plate, making an X pattern with the red and yellow pepper slices. Spoon a puddle of sauce into the center of the plate and dress with strips of duck meat and crispy skin. Serve with warm crepes and green onion brushes on the side.
To serve, fill crepes with strips of meat, crispy skin, cucumber and pepper. Drizzle with sauce and enjoy!