Brown-Sugar-and-Soy-Glazed Roast Duck

Serves 4. Recipe is from “Chasing the Gator” by Isaac Toups and Jennifer V. Cole. “We bag a lot of mallards when hunting in this neck of the woods, so I cook them more than other kinds of duck. But you can make this recipe with any duck of a decent size. To serve, I take the breasts and legs completely off the carcass, then cut the breasts into ½-inch slices and separate the thighs from the legs and serve them whole. Everyone then fights over the wings and neck.”

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided

¼ cup toasted whole black peppercorns

8 bay leaves

Grated zest and juice of 4 large navel oranges

2 (12-ounce) bottles amber-style beer

3 quarts water

Enough ice water (about 21 cups) to equal 3 gallons after simmering the brine mixture

1 large (2½-pound) Peking duck (or a wild mallard if you can get one), cleaned

1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper

2 tablespoons soy sauce (not reduced-sodium)

Equipment:

4-gallon (or larger) food-safe container (you can get one at a restaurant supply store or online) or small cooler

Brine the duck:

1. Combine the 2 cups brown sugar, the 2 cups salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, orange zest and juice, beer and 3 quarts water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Put the brine in the 4-gallon container or cooler, and add enough ice water to measure exactly 3 gallons. (It’s important to keep the salt-to-water ratio for brines.) You’ve already got the salt, so the amount of ice water you need to add will vary according to how much liquid you lost when boiling the brine.) Dunk the duck in the brine and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring once halfway through. To stir, I just grab the duck and give it a good twist back and forth.

3. After 24 hours and when you’re ready to cook (if the duck brines a little longer, that’s okay), remove the duck from brine and pat dry with paper towels, both the skin and inside the cavity. Let sit out for 30 minutes to come to room temperature.

Roast the duck:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.

2. In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, the ground black pepper and soy sauce. Rub the skin and inside the cavity of the duck with the mixture, using all of it.

3. Place the duck, breast-side up, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Roast for 2 hours. Cover with aluminum foil and place back in oven and roast for an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes. You’ll know the duck is done when you pull on the back leg and it starts to come loose.

4. Let the duck rest, still wrapped in foil, for 10 minutes. Remove the duck from the pan. Pour the fat and jus from the roasting pan into a bowl, and skim the fat, reserving the jus. Slice the duck, spoon the jus over the meat, and serve.