the crispness of the skin on the beer can chicken impressed me so much that i thought the “beer can” cooking technique might actually translate well when applied to making peking duck. the beer can technique did not fail. after an hour of roasting, the fat on the duck had been completely rendered, leaving the skin crisp and flakey. because i had used a young duckling, there was even less fat left on the duck than the super crispy version that i ate at Dadong (大董烤鴨店) in Beijing.
a lot of the recipes that i looked at called for some rather fancy contraptions and old school techniques. the classic process of making peking duck seems to involve blowing air between the skin and the flesh of the duck with an air pump and then hang drying the duck with a fan blowing for several hours. lacking both the air pump and a fan (as well as the desire for my place to smell like raw duck), i opted for some shortcuts.
Beer Can Peking Duck in an Oven (啤酒鑵北京烤鴨)
(note: there’s a ton of wait time in this recipe, so you really need to plan ahead)
Duck ~5 lbs. I bought the duck from WF. The duck head and neck has been removed.
Peking duck is traditionally made with the head still on.
Honey 3 tbsp
Rice Vinegar 3 tbsp
Salt a few sprinkles
Water see recipe below
5 Spice Powder 1 tsp
Star Anise 1 piece (optional)
Cinnamon 1 stick (optional)
- Wash duck. Trim off excess skin and fat. Rub salt over the skin of the duck. Pat it dry. Then wash the salt off the duck, set aside and let it dry from 30 minutes.
- Separate the skin from the muscle using your hands or chopsticks. Be careful not to puncture the skin.
- Tie the duck upright by placing some kitchen twin underneath the duck’s wings and hanging the duck from your kitchen faucet.
- Boil 4 cups of water. With the duck hanging in the sink, scorch the skin with the boiling water on all sides with a ladle.
- Let duck dry for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- In a pot, combine 3 cups of water, honey and rice vinegar and bring to a boil.
- Ladle the honey, vinegar, water mixture onto the duck again. Make sure the duck is coated on all sides.
- Mount the duck on an unopened beer can (b/c the duck is longer, I used a 1 pint beer can that is taller than the regular beer can). The duck should be upright. Place the duck with the beer can in a hotel pan and place in the oven for 5-6 hours. The oven should be set to defrost (which is around 75ºF. You’re basically looking for the oven fan to blow on the duck with no to minimal heat).
- When the duck has thoroughly dried, take it out of the oven and remove the beer can from the cavity. Next, open the beer can, empty out about 2 inches, insert the 5 spice powder, star anise and cinnamon, and re-insert the beer can into the duck. The duck should be standing up over a hotel pan. (A lot of duck fat is rendered in the roasting process and collects in the hotel pan.)
- Roast at 400°F for 50-60 minutes.
- Gently carve the skin off in thin slices and serve with scallions, cucumbers, hoisin sauce and peking duck pancakes.
(Note: I made my own pancakes, but I think it’s not really worth the effort. Just buy the pre-made ones in the store. The hoisin sauce will taste infinitely better if you mix about 1/3 cup of hoisin sauce with 3 tbsp of sesame oil and 3 tbsp of rice wine).