Mighty Duck

2 to 4 servings

Combine all brine ingredients in a plastic container with a lid. Place the lid on the container and shake to dissolve the salt.

Remove the pop-up thermometer, liver, gizzards, and heart. Cut off the wings.

Using kitchen shears, locate the spine at the base of the neck. Cut up the line of the backbone towards the neck cavity. Turn the duck and cut straight towards the rear cavity. Remove the backbone.

Turn the duck over and cut straight down the middle of the breast bone, leaving 2 equal duck halves. To separate the legs from the breast, flip your halves over so the flesh side is facing up at you. Using a knife, make a crescent shape cut between the leg and the breast. Lay your knife flat against the skin and make 3 marks in one direction and then in the other, making an X. Make sure that you are cutting through the skin and not the meat.

Line the inside of a plastic lexan or a pot with a zip-top bag. Place the duck quarters inside the bag, and pour the brine over the duck. Seal the bag, ensuring that all air is removed from the bag. Brine the duck for 2 to 2 1/2 hours in the refrigerator.

Bring 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Place a colander into the pot and line the sides of the colander with the duck. Do not stack the duck quarters on each other. Cover and turn the heat to medium low. Steam the duck for 45 minutes. Set oven to 475 degrees F. Place a large cast iron skillet into the oven.

Remove duck pieces from steamer and place legs, skin side down, into the hot skillet. Place the skillet into the hot oven immediately and cook the leg quarters for 10 minutes. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook for 7 more minutes or until the duck takes on a deep mahogany color and the skin is very crisp.

Remove the duck from the skillet and rest under foil. Add the chard and the shallots to the skillet. Toss the chard in the fat until it barely wilts. Season with the sherry or balsamic vinegar.

Serve the duck with the chard.

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I'm giving this 4 stars. I made one major change - I brined with water instead of pineapple juice, which I ultimately regretted because pineapple juice actually denatures meat proteins over time, so it wasn't as tender as it could have been. Also make sure that you have the skillet fully hot, or else the duck skin WILL stick. Not AB's fault, totally mine because I was in a rush. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I've made this probably 10 times now. Dirties a lot of dishes, but well worth it. My husband likes it so much, he even volunteers to do the dishes if I'll make it. If you have a chance to watch the episode, AB also recommends skimming some of the duck fat into a separate pan/skillet & sauteeing some boiled red baby potatoes with some salt & pepper. Not too much though, but it does complete the meal: duck, swiss chard, baby red potatoes. It's a hit every time. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was my first time making duck, and my first time eating it beyond a small taste as PF Changs once. I double checked that it's safe to eat pink duck meat (and it is) and I was relieved that it wasn't blood red after cooking. I did use my meat thermometer to ensure food safety. I found it quite tasty. I was just a bit disappointed that it didn't taste more different. It was actually quite similar to chicken with the crispy skin. I did not have a cast iron skillet, so I used my large roasting pan and it worked fine. The meat was very moist and I really liked the flavor of thyme and salt. There was no discernible citrus flavor in the finished bird. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was fantastic! First time every cooking duck and it came out succulent, incredibly moist, and extremely tender with this recipe. Raves all around the dinner table. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is the only way I will make duck in the future! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Just tried this today, Wonderful idea of first steaming and then roasting! worked perfectly item not reviewed by moderator and published
We've made duck for Christmas dinner for several years now but after watching the episode of Good Eats where Alton uses this recipe, we decided to try it this way. This is how we'll be preparing it in the future. It was great. Tender, juicy, full of flavor. I even left in in the brine for 3.5 hours (recipe calls for 2-2.5) with no ill effects. We still had some smoke despite the steaming taking off a lot of the fat, but not enough to set off the smoke alarm. I couldn't find chard for the salad and used fresh spinach instead. It turned out great as well. Highly recommended! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Another Alton hit. I knew it would be good, since I have been using his steaming method to make the best hot wings on the planet. Too bad they have moved Good Eats to the Cooking Channel premium cable channel by me now - I really miss it!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I first made this recipe for Christmas dinner several years ago, it was a BIG hit. Now, whenever I am polling my family for what to cook for a special meal, my son says "well, Duck always works"!! This year I'm going to follow this recipe but use a goose. I know I will need to adjust the cooking times, but am hopeful for a better result than the last goose I cooked. It was not edible. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This dish was fantastic. Follow the recipe and watch the video. It was moist and perfectly seasoned, and the skin was crispy and not over-cooked. The chard was a great fit. For anyone trying to improvise, don't use anything but a cast-iron skillet. You won't get the desired result without it. I roasted some red potatoes, carrots, and onions separately and put it all together over the chard. If you like dark meat and don't want to deep-fry to get a crispy, flavorful poultry dish, this is it. item not reviewed by moderator and published

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