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Test Kitchen tips: Do-it-yourself Peking duck

May 11, 2012 | 11:00 am

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Sure, you can order it at any Chinese restaurant. But have you ever thought about making Peking duck yourself? At home? Writer Andrea Nguyen did in a great story she wrote for Food:

It's a production that until recently I didn't have the gumption to tackle. I let the pros at Chinese restaurants do the work. But those meals were rarely as regal as those described in books. Though the skin was always crisp, the flesh was sometimes mealy or the pancakes were mass-produced and characterless. When the courses arrived too fast and overlapped, flavors got jumbled up, diminishing the overall experience.

I was never truly satisfied, but making the Chinese classic myself seemed like a culinary deed of derring-do, beyond the reach of mere mortals. Then, around Lunar New Year in February, I decided that I'd had enough with paying for so-so duck dinners and would try to master Peking duck three ways. After several months of trying, I think I've succeeded.

Peking duck at home definitely is a production -- think weekend project -- but it's fascinating, and it's completely do-able with some patience and a little know-how. Check out Nguyen's story, and continue reading below for a step-by-step on preparing the duck before cooking.

Oh, and we include recipes:

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

ALSO:

Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

-- Noelle Carter
twitter/noellecarter

Photo credits: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

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1. Salt the duck

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2. Use a bamboo skewer to stitch the duck closed.

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3. To inflate the duck, use the tip of a paring knife to pierce a hole at the bottom of the duck's neck. Aim for the firm center of wish bones. Insert an air pump -- or use a turkey baster, like we did in the L.A. Times Test Kitchen, and gently inflate.

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4. Inflate the back of the duck.

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5. Remove the head from the duck.

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6. Cut off the legs, right below the knee joint, then cut off the first two joints of the wings. Cut off its neck, leaving about 2 inches attached to the body.

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7. Baste the duck.

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8. The duck is ready to be refrigerated.

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9. Chilled duck.

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