Chef Danny Bowien had the perfect dish in mind for the Playlist Potluck dinner. His Beggar’s Duck recipe, a take on the traditional Chinese dish Beggar’s Chicken, is ideal for sharing amongst a group. Stuffed with dates, chestnuts, and rice, and then baked in clay that is cracked with a mallet, this dish is as equally entertaining as it is delicious.
Watch the video below and make it for yourself:
CHEF DANNY BOWIEN’S BEGGAR’S DUCK RECIPE
From: The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook, by Danny Bowien and Chris Ying (Harper Collins, 2015)
FEEDS: 4 (OR 6 AS PART OF A LARGER MEAL)
Note: This recipe requires an overnight cure.
5 pounds moist high-fire clay (ideally purchased the same day you’re going to use it);
1 full-size (16 ½-by-24 ½ inch) silicone baking mat; oil spray
1 whole duck, about 5 pounds
10 to 12 cups duck fat (or substitute lard or vegetable or peanut oil)
For the duck glaze
2/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup Shaoxing wine
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 dry lotus leaves, soaked for 30 minutes in warm water
For the filling
1 ½ cups sticky rice, soaked in cold water for 4 hours
1/3 cup cooked chestnuts, rough chopped
1/3 cup pitted dates, cut into ¼-inch-thick coins
Rich Duck Sauce (recipe follows)
1. Remove the duck wings, and reserve for the duck sauce, along with the neck and any organs that the duck came with. Season the duck liberally inside and out with about 1/4 cup salt, lay it on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, and refrigerate overnight.
2. Heat the oven to 275°F.
3. Place the duck in a Dutch oven and cover by about 1 inch with fat. Top with a piece of parchment paper, then cover tightly with a lid for foil. Carefully slide the pot into the oven and cook for 2 hours. Uncover the duck (leave the parchment), and let cool for about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile make the Duck Glaze: Add the sugar to a small sauce pan over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar is caramelized, about 6 minutes. Because the sugar is brown to begin with, it’s hard to tell when it’s caramelized and easy to burn! Use your nose more than your eyes. Once the sugar is melted, stir constantly until it just begins to smell like caramel. Add the Shaoxing wine to immediately stop the cooking.
5. Add the soy and dark soy sauces, and cook, stirring to dissolve any sugar that has solidified. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
6. Raise the oven temperature to 325°F.
7. Set a wire rack in a sheet pan. Insert a pair of tongs or a wooden spoon into the duck’s cavity, and carefully lift it out of the oil. Drain as much oil as possible, and try your very best not to break the skin or spill oil all over yourself. Set the bird on the rack, and brush the skin with a couple layers of glaze, reserving 2 or 3 tablespoons. Slide back into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. This can all be done up to a day ahead. Store the duck in the refrigerator overnight and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before proceeding.
8.Make the filling: Line a perforated pan or steamer with one of the lotus leaves. Drain the rice and spread it onto the leaf. Steam the rice in a large pot or rice cooker filled with 1 inch of water for 25 minutes.
9. While the rice is still warm, mix in the cooked chestnuts, dates, and reserved duck glaze. Season to taste with more glaze. Use a spoon or your hands to pack the race tightly into the cavity of the glazed duck. Set aside.
10. Now comes the fun part. Set a silicone baking mat on your work surface and spray it with oil. Place the clay in the center of the mat. (Chances are you had to buy a big, 25-pound block of clay. No problem, just cut a slab with a butter knife.) Run a rolling pin under cold water, then use it to start pounding the clay flat. Roll the clay out into an unbroken piece of uniform thickness (about 1/4 inch) that covers the entire surface of the mat. If you end up with a break in the clay, don’t worry. Just use your fingers to press and seal it and keep rolling. Keeping the rolling pin wet will help prevent the clay from sticking.
11. Lay a soaked lotus leaf in the center of the clay, and place the duck breast side up on the leaf, with the cavity nearest to you. Fold the left edge of the leaf over the duck, then the shorter ends (top and bottom), then finally the right edge. Pull the leaf taut and carefully flip the package over so that the folds are underneath the duck and the breast is now facing down.
12. Now fold the left edge of the silicone mat over the lotus-wrapped duck, then gently peel them mat away from the clay. Repeat with the right side. Wet your fingers with water and rub the clay to feel any cracks or openings. Feel free to trim clay from the top and bottom edges patch any openings. This is a pretty forgiving process–just make sure the package is completely sealed.
13. Now carefully flip the whole package onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Allow the clay-wrapped duck to dry at room temperature for at least 1 hour. The clay should shrink a bit, turn lighter in color, and be dry to the touch before you roast it.
14. Heat the oven to 375°F. Slide the duck in and roast for 1 hour. Don’t open the door while the duck is roasting. Remove the duck from the oven – the clay should be significantly lighter in color and hard to the touch. Bring it out to the table to wow your guests, cover with a napkin or towel, and tap with a mallet or hammer to break up the clay. Uncover, brush off the clay, and unwrap the lotus leaf to reveal your glorious duck. Spoon warm sauce over the top and serve.
Rich duck sauce
YIELD: ¾ CUP
Wings, neck, and gizzards from 1 duck
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 shallot, sliced
1/2 small carrot, sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 juniper berries
1 ¼ teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups rich chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1. Heat the oven to 425°F.
2. Lay the duck parts out on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until dark brown, turning once, about 12 to 15 minutes. Reserve.
3. Heat to medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, then add the ginger, shallot, carrot, and spices to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Move the ingredients with a spoon or spatula to create a little open space in the pan and add the tomato paste. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the red wine and chicken stock, and use a spoon to scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the roasted duck parts and bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 1 ½ hours.
4. Strain and discard the solids, then return the broth to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced to 3/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Reserve until ready to use. To finish, bring the sauce to a boil, add the butter, and whisk to combine. Serve immediately.