Binging with Babish: Peking Duck from A Christmas Story

[Movie clip begins] THE OLD MAN: “Uh…”
WAITER: “What?” THE OLD MAN: “It-it’s…smiling at me!”
WAITER: “Ahh-h-h!”WAITER: “Okay? Beautiful!”
THE OLD MAN: “Yeah, yeah!”[Movie clip ends] Hey, what’s up guys; welcome back to Binging With Babish, where, this week, we’re taking a look at “Chinese turkey”,
a.k.a. Peking duck. Something I’ve always wanted to try making, and something that relies heavily on the Chinese five-spice mixture… …that of: cinnamon, clove, star anise, fennel seed,
and Szechuan peppercorn. You can buy this stuff pre-ground, but, as usual with most dried spices, it’s going to benefit from being toasted and freshly-ground. So, that’s just what we’re going to do. We’re going to toast these in a dry skillet until fragrant, take out the cinnamon sticks and
give them a good smash, dump everything into our dedicated spice grinder
(this is not used for grinding coffee) and grind to a fine powder. Now you can keep this in your spice rack and it will taste worlds better than any of the pre-ground stuff. Next up, a marinade for the cavity of the duck, which is pretty much just Hoisin sauce. In a medium bowl, combine 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of honey, a small knob of freshly grated ginger, and a single clove of freshly grated garlic, 2 teaspoons of seasoned rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons of sesame seed oil, if this sauce gets too thin, you can add cornstarch to thicken, but not until after… …we’ve added our thickening agents, that is: a tablespoon of chili-garlic sauce, 2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter, a few solid pinches of our five-spice mixture, a good twist of freshly-ground pepper, and maybe 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Whisk to combine, and, again, add cornstarch
as necessary. Now, the faint-of-heart, you might want to look away, because we’ve got a head-on young Peking duck. Into whose cavity we’re going to dump about
maybe half of the Hoisin sauce, and then we’re going to stitch the cavity closed
using a bamboo skewer. As you can see, I’m sort of wrapping the skin
around the skewer for each stitch. Now, for what was certainly the weirdest part of my day, I am fitting the tip of an air compressor hose with the finger of a rubber glove that I’ve cut a hole into (like a very, very ineffective prophylactic) shoving into the neck skin of the duck and
cranking the compressor on, inflating the duck and separating
the skin from the meat, which is going to allow the fat to better render
and give us crispier, browner skin. Next up, we need to scald the duck in a mixture of about 4 cups of water, maybe 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and a few of our whole Chinese five-spice…spices. Bring to a boil, carefully hold the duck over top,
and ladle across the skin, until it starts to take on a nice golden color
and the skin tightens up considerably. Now, ideally you want this guy to rest in the fridge uncovered for at least 1 day and up to 3, but, if you’re like me and you had the idea for this episode the day before it airs, we need a shortcut. And a very effective way to rapidly
dry skin is with a hair dryer. It’s also an opportunity to pull out any stray feathers
that the butcher might’ve missed. Now it’s time to roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. While the bird roasts, it’s time to make some
Mandarin-style pancakes. We’re going to add 2/3 of a cup of boiling water
to 10 ounces of plain all-purpose flour, mix until a shaggy dough forms, turn out onto a floured worktop, and knead until smooth and supple. Roll into a 2-inch log and divide into 24 pieces. Each of which, we’re then going to divide,
again, in half. And, keeping the other pieces under plastic wrap
until we’re ready to use them, roll out, to about a 3-inch round, both pieces,
on a well-floured work surface and then brush one side with sesame seed oil.
A very very light film of sesame seed oil. Sandwich the two together and roll out to a
7 to 9-inch pancake. Which, kinda like a fresh tortilla, we’re going to toast in a dry pan until light brown spots form. Once all the pancakes are done, it’s time to
retrieve our duck. Now, this guy did not turn out as evenly browned
as a traditional Peking duck, because it had not been allowed to
air-dry overnight. But, the skin is still super crisp and the meat is nice and juicy. And the head, smiling as ever. Now it’s time to simply carve the duck; remove the wings and legs and then slice the breast meat into about 1/2 inch slices. You’ll have to forgive my haste, but this is the first thing I’ve eaten all day and my whole apartment has been smelling like duck and spices for hours now. Fill up a pancake with duck, thinly sliced cucumber and scallions, and then top with a bit of our reserved Hoisin sauce. Now, again, air-drying the duck overnight or up to 3 days is going to give you darker skin and more flavorful meat, but as far as shortcuts go, this one is a keeper.

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