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Pineapple Roasted Duck: A reader challenge in Jack Hennessy’s “Braising the Wild”

Jack Hennessy gives a reader challenge this week in “Braising the Wild” with his recipe of Pineapple Roasted Duck.

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Pineapple Roasted Duck.
Jack Hennessy

Jack Hennessy offers a reader challenge this week in “Braising the Wild.” His recipe, Pineapple Roasted Duck, is the starting point.

Have a go with the challenge.

Here is his latest recipe:

PINEAPPLE ROASTED DUCK

Nearly every recipe I have written over my career is telling my audience, concisely and specifically as I can manage, what they should do with their game or fish. With this one, my goal is to present a challenge to my fellow duck hunters out there.

I’ll lay the foundation: Vertically roast a fully plucked and dressed mallard atop a pineapple. (I’ll describe how I did it below.)

Your mission: Take this rather unusual idea and run with it. Perhaps you don’t use a pineapple—perhaps it’s a root vegetable atop which the mallard will sit. Maybe you pin a halved orange to the top instead of the pineapple’s top. Will you make a sauce with the drippings?

My instructions below are the guidelines. Where you go from there, is up to you.

There are no wrong ideas here. Creativity and taste are the mission. I myself was hoping to create a sauce or glaze with drippings, but found my 500-degree grill (while creating for a juicy bird with crispy skin) charred any fats or liquids almost as soon as they appeared. Perhaps you, with your own grill, can imagine a method to troubleshoot this.

I offered pieces of my carved duck to my 2-year-old toddler, the picky eater who, more often than not, spits out her food for our dog to lap up. Much to my surprise, not only did she eat it, she asked for seconds, then thirds, AFTER having already (sort of) eaten dinner. The joys of cooking wild game don’t get any better than that.

Ingredients (make two servings):

1 mallard, plucked and dressed

1 pineapple, carved

Brine:

1/2 gallon cold water

1/4 cup non-iodized salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 bulb garlic, peeled and smashed

6 ounces ginger, smashed

1/4 cup black peppercorns

To prepare:

Brine thawed bird for approximately 6-8 hours.

Thoroughly rinse off bird and pat dry. Let sit in fridge uncovered for an hour in order to dry completely (dry skin equals crispy skin).

Cut off an inch of bottom and top of a pineapple. Carve so only approximately an 1-inch-by-1-inch center remains (the size of the cavity of duck) along with a few inches at the base.

Slide duck onto carved pineapple (similar to beer can chicken). Place pineapple top on top of duck, secure with kabob skewer (from pineapple top through center of duck through carved pineapple center to pineapple base).

Place pineapple in a cast-iron skillet.

Create a two-zone heating setup for grill (only one half of grill has burners lit or charcoal smoldering). Heat to 450 to 500 degrees. For my setup, I used my Pryo Tower grill with a half inch baking steel to block the heat on one side of the grate.

The idea is hot and fast. A wild duck, which is likely not very fatty, should crisp up in 20 to 25 minutes. You want the duck (in the skillet) to sit on the unlit side, so flames barely miss kissing the skin. Make sure to keep grill covered so temps remain around 450/500.

Once the skin is brown, chances are the duck is close to medium rare (130 degrees internal). Pull and cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest 15 minutes before carving. (You are welcome to probe with meat thermometer to check before pulling.)