Perhaps this will be the year you break out of your ham rut.
Not that there's anything wrong with a spiral-cut-honey-roasted-maple-slathered-pineapple-adorned ham. It's just that as main courses at an Easter feast go, they tend to be kind of... Meh. Truth is, the best part of a monster sweet-roasted ham is the leftovers. We want those sandwiches and hashes the next day. But for the big meal itself? Been there too many times.
So we offer this delicious alternative. Get yourself your usual ham, but get a smaller one. Roast it up the day before or the day after Easter. Now you've got your lunches and breakfasts covered. But for Easter dinner, how about trying something new, such as this duo of roasted ducks?
The process is the same as roasting any other bird, with one exception. Because duck is so fatty, we give it a quick boil before roasting to render off some of that fat. Once the ducks are boiled and patted dry, you pop them in a roasting pan and mostly ignore them. To dress up our ducks, we created an intensely citrusy tomato chutney. It's deliciously sweet and perfect for cutting through the richness of the duck.
Most grocers only sell frozen whole ducks, so think ahead and shop early so they have time to thaw for a day in the refrigerator.
ROASTED DUCKS WITH CITRUS-TOMATO CHUTNEY
Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours (1 hour active)
Two 5- to 6-pound whole Peking or Long Island ducks
Ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, not peeled
2 medium shallots, chopped
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Zest and juice of 2 tangerines
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Heat the oven to 375 F. Place a large roasting rack in a roasting pan large enough to hold both ducks.
In a pot large enough to hold 1 duck submerged in water, combine 6 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil.
While the water heats, use kitchen shears to trim the wing tips from the ducks, as well as any excess flaps of skin. Remove any giblets and the neck from the cavity (discard or save for another use). Poke the duck skin all over with a sharp fork, poking only through the skin and not into the meat.
When the water is boiling, one at a time submerge each duck in the water. If the duck floats, place a plate on top to keep it submerged. Cook for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from the water and set on a platter. Repeat with the second duck, adding water if needed.
When both ducks have been boiled, pat them dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper, then arrange on the roasting rack breast sides down. Roast for 1 hour. Flip the ducks to be breast side up by inserting 2 wooden spoons into the cavities, one in each end. Roast for another 60 to 75 minutes, or until the thigh reaches 175 F. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
While the ducks roast, prepare the chutney. In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, add the garlic (leaving their papery skins intact). Cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Remove the garlic from the skillet and cool until easily handled. Peel the garlic, return it to the skillet and mash with a fork.
Add 2 tablespoons of duck fat (you can collect it from the drippings in the roasting pan) and the shallots. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, citrus zests and juices, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and smoked paprika. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until everything is soft and saucy. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with the duck.
Nutrition information per serving: 870 calories; 590 calories from fat (68 per cent of total calories); 65 g fat (22 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 190 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 21 g sugar; 45 g protein; 380 mg sodium.