Roast Duck with Black Peppercorns
This extraordinary roast duck with black peppercorns and a molasses glaze recipe is easy to execute and makes a beautiful presentation for a special occasion. Give thought to which peppercorns you want to choose for this dish. We like Voatsiperifery peppercorns, a wild peppercorn from Madagascar. These black peppercorns tend to be small and have a distinctive tail that delivers heady, woody, floral and fruity notes without an overwhelming heat. The fruity aroma of the freshly ground pepper is so alluring it can be detected across a room, and it pairs well with the molasses in the duck glaze. Voatsiperifery pepper goes particularly well with meat (poultry, pork and lamb), vegetables (potatoes and salads), omelettes and goat’s cheese as well as strawberries, melons and chocolate also.
To decide what kind of pepper you prefer, try grinding different types of peppercorns onto small plates and do a taste and smell test for yourself. Yes, there are distinct differences between flavor profiles, and experimentation is fun.
For best results, be sure to use blackstrap molasses in this recipe, which has a strong flavor and dark color, both of which enhance the dish. A vanilla bean gives the freshest flavor, but vanilla paste from a jar is fine too. To plate the dish, first cut off the duck breasts as neatly as possible, then remove the legs and wings of the birds. Thinly slice the breasts crosswise, then arrange everything on a platter. Drizzle with glaze, and garnish with chives — or for a holiday look, sprigs of rosemary and fresh cranberries.
Another way to serve this is to remove the duck meat and shred it by hand, then dress it with the sauce and serve it as a warm appetizer in a mound with salad greens, or in small mounds on endive leaves or slices of toast.
- Servings Serves 4
- Two 1.8 (4-pound) ducks, neck and giblets removed, rinsed and dried
- Salt and finely ground black pepper
- 118 ml (1/2 cup) red wine vinegar
- 45 ml (3 tablespoons) honey
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- 473ml (2 cups) chicken stock or broth
- 59 ml (¼ cup) blackstrap molasses
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) coarsely ground black peppercorns
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 15 ml (1 tablespoon) vanilla bean paste
- 113 grams (4 ounces) well-chilled unsalted butter, cut into 8 slices
1. Preheat oven to 177° C (350° F). Season the ducks on all sides with salt and pepper, and set them on a rack in a large roasting pan. Blend vinegar and honey in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the ducks. Roast breast side up for 25 minutes.
2. Turn the ducks over and cook until golden brown and crisp, about another 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until brown, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, molasses, coarsely ground pepper, and vanilla bean or paste. Reduce, stirring, to about 355 ml (1⅓ cups), about 15 minutes. Remove vanilla bean if it was used, and season with salt to taste. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time. Keep warm.
3. Cut breast meat off ducks and slice in 1.3 cm (½ inch) thick pieces, then fan out on serving plates. Arrange leg and thigh portions alongside. Brush the glaze over the skin of the duck, and serve extra in a small powl of pitcher at the table. This is excellent served with roasted butternut squash and a green vegetable such as broccoli rabe or lightly sauteed spinach.