Duck isn’t as commonplace as chicken, but it’s just as easy to prepare. First, cut the ducks in half so they cook evenly and are easier to serve. Then render out a lot of the excess fat by browning them on the stovetop. Brush with a glaze of orange marmalade, orange juice, and soy sauce as they finish cooking in the oven, for a flavor that’s a cross between duck à l’orange and Chinese roast duck. Serve with braised Brussels sprouts and rice pilaf.
Special equipment: You’ll need an instant-read thermometer and a pastry brush or barbecue basting brush for this recipe.
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoonkosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (4- to 5-pound) whole ducks
1/2 cuporange marmalade
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoonsoy sauce
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl; set aside.
Remove and discard the necks from the ducks, rinse out the cavities, and pat them dry all over with paper towels.
To halve the ducks, place 1 duck breast-side down on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, cut down both sides of the backbone.
Remove and discard the backbone.
Flip the duck over and cut through the center of the breastbone to separate it into 2 pieces.
Cut through both wing joints where they connect to the breast to completely remove each wing (discard the wings or save them for another use).
Repeat with the second duck.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, season all sides of the duck halves with the reserved salt and pepper mixture. When the pan is ready, place 2 of the duck halves in it skin-side down. Sear, occasionally pressing on the duck with a flat spatula (for even browning), until the skin is light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze.
Place the marmalade, orange juice, and soy sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the duck halves are ready, transfer them to a large roasting pan skin-side up. Pour any accumulated fat from the frying pan into a medium heatproof bowl. Repeat with the remaining 2 duck halves.
Stir 2 tablespoons of the rendered duck fat into the reserved glaze (discard the remaining fat or save it for another use). Brush the duck halves with a third of the glaze and roast for 15 minutes. Brush with another third of the glaze and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 160°F, about 10 to 15 minutes more.
Brush the ducks with the remaining third of the glaze. Turn the oven to broil and broil until the skin is dark golden brown and crisped, about 2 to 3 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.