Master These Recipes for Foods You’re Too Intimidated to Cook



Crisp Roast Duck With Plum Applesauce

There are several intimidating things about this recipe. Some people are afraid of roasting duck or turkey because it seems like a big deal and very "grown up." But it's really not and it's one of the easiest things to cook. Duck itself seems fancier and more work than chicken or turkey. This isn't true either, it's just more expensive. And there's an accompanying sauce. Sometimes making a homemade sauce or gravy seems like "professional chef" territory but it's actually not too difficult. But you will feel like a professional chef! These dishes sound so fancy but are so easy. I made it for New Year's dinner one year and everyone was so impressed and my brother-in-law even asked for it again on his birthday.

For duck:

  • 1 5- to 6-pound Long Island duck (also known as Peking)
  • 2 cups boiling hot water
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tsp black pepper

For sauce:

  • 2 lbs Gala or McIntosh apples, quartered and seeded, left unpeeled
  • 2 lbs red or black plums, quartered and pitted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • (You'll also need a sieve or strainer.)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

If necessary, cut off wing tips with poultry shears or a sharp knife. Remove and discard excess fat from body cavity and neck, then rinse duck inside and out. Prick skin all over with a sharp fork. Fold neck skin under body, then put duck, breast side up, on a rack in a 13-by-9-by-3-inch roasting pan and pour boiling hot water over duck (to tighten skin). Cool duck, then pour out any water from cavity into pan. Pat duck dry inside and out, reserving water in pan, then rub duck inside and out with kosher salt and pepper.

Roast duck, breast side up, 45 minutes, then remove from oven. Turn duck over using 2 wooden spoons, and roast 45 minutes more. Turn duck over again (breast side up), tilting duck to drain any liquid from cavity into pan. Continue to roast duck until skin is brown and crisp, about 45 minutes more (total roasting time: about 2 1/4 hours). Tilt duck to drain any more liquid from cavity into pan. Transfer duck to a cutting board and let stand 15 minutes before carving. Discard liquid in roasting pan.

How simple is that?

You can easily make the sauce while the duck is roasting if you don't have too many other tasks, or make it ahead of time.

For the sauce, cook all ingredients in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot, covered, over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit is very tender and falling apart, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Force mixture through a large medium-mesh sieve using a rubber spatula, discarding peels.

That's it! This sauce is so good you'll totally be eating it with a spoon.

Recipes adapted from here and here.