How to Make Peking Duck for Chinese New Year's
The Chinese culture is known for its festive banquets, particularly for weddings and Chinese New Year's celebrations, and crispy Peking duck. January 23, 2012 marks the new year so out with the "year of the rabbit" and in with the firey dragon. The dragon is a symbol of power and wealth. What could be better than a meal fit for an emperor -- Peking Duck? Cooking Peking duck at home is fun but also quite time consuming. I find this recipe to be relatively easy to follow and strongly suggest it's worth the try. The key to good Peking duck is the many-stage and all-day process of drying the skin, removing excess fat and glazing the bird with aromatic ingredients so that the roasted bird is crispy on the outside, lean, not greasy, and very moist on the inside. Choose fresh -- never frozen -- Long Island duckling, whenever possible. And start cooking the night before or early in the morning to allow the skin to dry out before cooking. Drying the skin is step one. Hang it using a kitchen twine wrapped under its wings and over a kitchen cabinet knob. A household fan speeds up the process. While the duck is drying (which will take several hours), you can go shopping for the fresh vegetables and other ingredients for your Chinese New Year's banquet. I like to serve a complimentary Asian side dish such as bok choy. A 5-minute bath in a honey glaze is step two. When you lower the duck into the wok be careful not splash the hot liquid. Step three is  repeating the drying process for the freshly glazed skin. The Time-Life recipe that I used to guide me the first time I made Peking Duck calls for one hour in front of a fan during the second drying; however, I followed several other recipes that call for longer drying times (the drier the skin the crispier the duck). Three hours is good if you have time or overnight in the refrigerator (you'll have to create a makeshift device to hang the duck in your fridge). Leave plenty of time to make the pancakes. My favorite part is to peel the pancakes apart. When I have it, I use beach plum jam to make a homemade sauce instead of bottled hoisin sauce although store-bought hoisin works quite well. About 2-1/2 hours before you plan to serve dinner, and when the skin is dry like “parchment paper”, roast the duck. As detailed in the recipe and shown in the phote, the duck is plated on a serving dish with the various parts of the duck separated and and served on different plates (crispy skin, legs, breast meat). To eat, diners take a pancake, brush on hoisin or beach plum jam sauce using a scallion that's been cut to make a "paint brush", put duck meat and skin on top of the pancake, and roll it up with all the ingredients inside. Then, take a heavenly bite. For step-by-step photos please visit: Lighthearted Locavore's "How to Make Peking Duck for Chinese New Year's"
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