Pass the Salt

Now that all the birthday festivities are over, we’re back to our international cooking adventures. For the next two weeks we’re going to be cooking recipes from Wales. It was my pick this time. Wales has a place close to my heart. Not because I’ve been there. I know very little about the country on the south-west side of the island of Great Britain.

My love for Wales goes back to when Mike and I were dating. On one of our early dates, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry to see the display of Christmas trees decorated from various countries around the world. While walking around, we came to the tree from Wales and leaning against the tree was a sign written in Welsh. Mike promptly began reading me the sign to which I was completely taken aback. This guy knew Welsh! I mean, who knows Welsh?!

We went on with our date and saw several more of the museum’s exhibits. It wasn’t until a few hours later that Mike owned up to the fact that he didn’t know Welsh. We both got a good laugh out of that one and enjoyed the rest of our date. Then I went home mortified – he must think I’m terribly gullible – but I hatched a plan. I went back to school (we lived several hours apart at the time) and composed a letter to him written entirely in Welsh. I painstakingly translated each and every word using an online Welsh-English dictionary. I’m sure the grammar was awful, but that didn’t matter. I sent the letter in the mail (yep – used good ol’ snail mail) and waited.

Mike received the letter, immediately knew what it was and ran right out to buy a Welsh-English dictionary. He spent hours deciphering the letter and called me instantly. The rest as they say is history…

Now for the food…a few months back I came across a cookbook entitled, Favorite Welsh Recipes by A. de Breanski Jnr. I knew instantly which recipe would be first – the Welsh Salt Duck. Since the beginning of our adventures, Miss A has had a hankering for duck. We’re not sure why, as she’s never had it before, but being as how Mike and I are both fans of duck, and have roasted them before, we were game.

We bought a frozen duck about four days before we planned to cook it. We set it in the refrigerator for the first day to begin thawing. The next day we began the salting process. We removed the plastic from the duck and placed it inside a tin-foil baking dish. We then rubbed an ounce of Kosher salt over the entire surface of the duck and returned it to the fridge. We repeated the same process later that evening and again the next day.

On the fourth day, we were ready to cook the duck. We removed the giblets and neck from the inside of the duck and then rinsed the duck in cold water making sure to remove any of the excess salt. We then placed the duck inside of a casserole dish which we filled with water.

Next we brought a medium-sized sauce pan full of water to a boil. We then poured the boiling water into a roasting pan and placed the casserole with the duck inside of the pan.

We baked the duck in this fashion for about 2 hours and 15 minutes at 350F. At this point we removed the roasting pan from the oven – very carefully as there was a good amount of boiling water and grease – and took the casserole dish out of the roasting pan.

Using a strong set of tongs we moved the duck from the casserole dish to a rack set inside of the roasting pan.

We then increased the oven temperature to 450F, returned the duck to the oven and baked it for another 25 minutes.

We ended up with a crispy and golden salt duck. We served our Welsh treat with a Cabernet Beurre Blanc and a side of barley and mushroom risotto.

This duck was unlike any we’ve ever had. The skin was crispy, the meat was juicy and tender and it had a strong salty flavor. Right away I knew this would be a hit with Mike and Mr. N and I was right. They both devoured their duck, and both commented on how awesome the skin tasted. It was a solid 3 spoon vote from each of them.

Miss A took some coaxing to take a bite of the duck. She was too busy trying to do gymnastic tricks on her chair. But she did eat every last bite of her duck once she started – well, all except for one piece which she fed to the cats who were hovering nearby. So another 3 spoon vote here.

I was the lone dissenter this time. It was just too much of a salt flavor for my liking. That said, I do enjoy duck, so I still ate it all up. I just won’t be eating the leftovers. Now the barley and mushroom risotto on the other hand, those leftovers are all mine!

Tan y tro nesaf. ;)

Print this recipe: Welsh Salt Duck

42 comments on “Pass the Salt

  1. Cute post! I love how you wrote him a letter in Welsh! I’ve salted poultry before and I don’t like the saltiness either nor do my kids. This looks like a great dinner from the duck to the rissotto to the sauce! Miss A reminds me of my 2nd child, can’t sit still in the chair at dinner time.

  2. Oh Miss A and my son are just the same!
    I gave up hope of him staying still for a whole meal..who am I kidding ..if he sat still for 3 mouth fulls that would be a great day!

    loved your story and the recipe but I do think it is A LOT of work…for one who has never tried duck…

    • Kristy says:

      It was a lot of steps, but none of them were terribly time consuming. That said, I prefer my duck with a fruit sauce and herbs more than I do the salt. And 3 bites would be a great day! We find she usually eats about one good meal a day. The rest of the day she snacks. ;)

  3. ChgoJohn says:

    I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked at duck in a display counter/freezer, even picked one up, only to move onto something else. I’ve never known what to do with one — until now. Thanks, Kristy, for sharing. And your risotto sounds delicious!

    • Kristy says:

      The risotto was by far my favorite part of the meal. That said, I’m sure we’ll make duck again. I doubt this salty next time, but I just the juiciness of a good duck! :)

  4. ceciliag says:

    The duck looked fabulous but I was most intrigued with the welsh story, how awesome! looking forward to more welsh food, are you going to do welsh rarebit? c

    • Kristy says:

      Thank you! It’s one of our favorite memories from early in our relationship. I think the letter is still around here somewhere. :) And you guessed right on the rarebit! Mike will be posting that one some time next week. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  5. Mel says:

    Hi Kristy! Oh that is such a sweet story :-) It made me smile reading it! As for duck – ah, it is one of my favourite meats – but I am yet to try cooking it. This looks and sounds like a most delicious way to cook/eat it though! Reminds me of duck confit too?

    P.S. I’ve added your site to my links page as I’d love my readers to find you if they haven’t already, I hope you don’t mind!

    • Kristy says:

      Thank you so much Mel! That is so sweet of you! I’ve done the same. ;)

      I’m not sure if it’s like duck confit or not…that’s something I’ve yet to try. Got it on my list though. You’ll have to try making duck at home. It far beats the duck I’ve had at restaurants – so juicy and adaptable to any flavors you enjoy with it. :)

  6. Caroline says:

    Mmm barley and mushroom risotto…yes please! I’m not a huge fan of duck, but with a crispy and salty exterior? Count me in. Great story and great food…as always. :)

  7. newlywed says:

    What a cute story — love it! I’m very gullible too:)

  8. Wales, oh Wales! that is where we were headed the day we found out I was pregnant. We were on a trip to England with my parents (visiting my Dad’s extended family), and were going to climb Mt. Snoden that day. So impressed your kids ate duck. I am not sure I could eat it, I know I couldn’t get my son to!

  9. Kelly says:

    What a great story Kristy – I love a smart man with a sense of humour and he’s clearly met his match in you too :) I don’t think I could bring myself to eat duck (I know, I know… it’s entirely hypocritical because, after all, chickens are arguably just as cute and perfectly worthy as ducks… it’s just that I see ducks every morning gracing the lake in the summertime… ’nuff said). I like the salt method and your result sounds amazing – crispy skin and juicy interior. That barley mushroom risotto looks amazing too (was that Mike?). My cat would love to live in your home! À la prochaine :)

    • Kristy says:

      Tee hee! :) Love the French!
      The barley mushroom risotto was Mike. He’s my risotto makin’ machine. :) I think I could live entirely off of risotto. This particular recipe we got at the cooking school we take classes at every now and then. They used barley in place of the arborio rice. It was incredible!
      And I don’t blame you for not wanting to eat the duck. I just completely separate the duck found in the freezer section of the grocer from the ones that live in our back yard in my mind. I think the only food I can’t separate from it’s true form is craw fish. Can’t do it. I feel like I’m eating a big water bug. Snails also take work separating, but Escargot is so darned good!

  10. spicegirlfla says:

    Ms. A is my kind of little girl! I remember my daughter could never sit still at the dinner table! Always needing to show us her new dance step!! I’ve never done a duck before so I’m very happy I learned something new here!!

    • Kristy says:

      One of these days I’m going to try moving around as much as she does. Mike has dared me to try – he thinks I would look hilarious. ;) I think I would burn off every calorie I consumed. I swear she never stops moving!!!

  11. I really want to try my hand at duck again and this may be just the recipe. Great story too.

  12. The Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) has a similar cooking method for duck to reduce the oil burning while roasting. My mom used to bake duck frequently, although I have never done it. Believe it or not, we used to save the duck fat to smear on freshly baked bread with a little salt. Makes me a little woosy to think of it now. I will venture outside the box this winter and try making duck too. Thanks

    • A_Boleyn says:

      I used to get ducks from my mom and dad when they were raising them ( I miss those days) and saved the clean white duck fat to give back to them in little containers so that my mom could pan fry their potatoes in the fat. I think I still have a container in the freezer.

      Of course there are people who BUY duck fat to make duck confit or pour a thin layer over a nice duck pâté (rillettes de canard if you want to be fancy). :)

    • Kristy says:

      It’s so delicious. It gets such a bad wrap for being overly greasy, but I’ve never found that to be the case. I mean it’s definitely greasier than a turkey, but it’s just so good. We also did a goose one year and really enjoyed that as well. It was very similar to duck. You’ll have to let me know if you end up making one this winter. :)

  13. My husband loves duck and he always wants me to cook it but I never find it anywhere? I don’t even know where to start? This salted duck looks insanely delicious. I love the sauce!

    • Kristy says:

      When we lived in a small town it was next to impossible to find duck. In fact, I don’t think we ever did. Here though, there’s usually one or two in the bins with the turkeys and whole chickens. :) My favorite way to cook duck though is roasted in the oven with herbs and basted in some sort of a fruit sauce. Mmmmm! :)

  14. Oh how romantic you too – lovely!
    The duck looks great – never cooked a whole duck before.
    Have a great week. :-) Mandy

  15. Charles says:

    lol, I can’t believe you chose Wales – I think I’ll learn a lot from your next few posts! I know next to nothing about Wales… just some tips on how to pronounce words and so forth. Makes me think of this story which I find hilarious. A great indication of just how decipherable Welsh is to non-speakers. It’s quite bizarre crossing the Severn Bridge because as soon as you get across to Wales, suddenly everything is in English and Welsh… a strange experience. My family and I used to take camping trips to a place called “Llanthony”. A small village nestling at the bottom of the Black Mountains. We stayed next to an old priory and it was so beautiful. Waking up in the morning to hear nothing but sheep and birds was a wonderful experience. Plus you have hardly any cellphone coverage there so it’s a real good place to “get away from it all”.

    That’s an adorable story about you and Mike – ah, young love. I can still remember when I first met my wife. That stomach-rolling feeling you get, feeling like you’re gonna do something to mess it all up :D Great looking recipe – I suppose you can use similar methods on chickens to ensure max crispiness… looks delicious, definitely a great cooking method. Maybe I’ll try something like that on my Christmas bird. By the way… what’s that little white round thing on the duck breast?

    • A_Boleyn says:

      “what’s that little white round thing on the duck breast”

      I forgot to ask that too. :)

    • Kristy says:

      That is a beautiful priory! What a wonderful place to camp. I can just imagine it. Amazing! One of these days I’d love for Mike to get a job in Europe for a sabbatical – all the places we could see! Not sure what I’d do about my job…details, details. ;) And that story about the sign is hilarious!!!! LOL! You’d think someone would have caught that at some point along the line. I can just imagine people’s reactions to reading that.

      The little white thing on the duck is a pop-up timer. They have them on turkeys and apparently ducks now. The little tab pops up when the bird is cooked thoroughly. I like to use them as a rough guide, but still rely on my meat thermometer just-in-case. :)

  16. rsmacaalay says:

    We have a similar process for chicken in the Philippines but instead of soaking in water baking then roasting we steam the chicken so it wont loose its flavour diluted in the water, cool it then deep fry it really quick. The result is like your duck crispy skin but tender on the inside. I would love to try your duck technique.

    • Kristy says:

      Now that sounds great! Mike has always wanted to deep fry a turkey, but I have a serious fire concern there. :) I like the idea of steaming the chicken and then roasting it. That sounds delicious!

  17. Of course you have to eat the risotto.. it looks delicious. As for the duck, I’m not sure I will try this recipe. I’ve heard of southern cookers “braising” their poultry sometimes with salt for 24 hours and some say its not salty at all. I;m afraid to even go there with it lol. I will try it one of these days. And I love the story of you and Mike.. I think I would have done something similar lol.

    • Kristy says:

      If you’ve never tried a duck…I’d go with an herb-roasted option. There’s so many wonderful flavors you can do with duck. It really is quite good and doesn’t take nearly as long as a turkey (if you skip the salt duck method anyway). :)

    • A_Boleyn says:

      Brines have a combination of salt and sugar so it shouldn’t taste salty when you’re eating it … it just keeps the meat moist.

  18. A_Boleyn says:

    Wow, that was a lot of work. I’m too lazy to commit to something with so many steps. I’d probably just brine the duck to get a similar result. I’m glad you at least enjoyed the risotto. :) Looking forward to the rest of the recipes. :)

    • Kristy says:

      We brine a turkey every year for Thanksgiving and I much prefer the flavor the brine gives to this…but I’m the only one in the house that doesn’t really care for salty things. :)

      • A_Boleyn says:

        I should really watch our salt intake due to health issues but I love salty things more than sweet any day of the week. I can pass up a box of chocolates but not a bag of chips or salted nuts. :)

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