Sichuan Beer Braised Duck

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This recipe isn’t for everyone. But if you’re anything like me and love tucking into a big bucket of blue crabs, stripping every last morsel off of a chicken wing, digging into a crawfish boil, or going back to that lobster to see if you can pry any more meat out of the legs, then this recipe is for you!

It’s a tactile dish, for those who love playing with and working for their food. Wild duck or goose gets chopped up, bones and all, and stewed in a powerfully flavourful Sichuan beer-based broth along with mushrooms and potatoes. Morsels get picked out of the spicy broth and are eaten with fingers or chopsticks, leaving the broth and aromatics behind.

This is a popular way of eating in China called hot pot, which is similar to a soup or stew, but the broth is not always meant to be eaten. Since you don’t eat the broth, you can make it way more rich, fatty, and spicy then you would for a more traditional soup. This gives everything you pull out of it way more flavour; much like a fondue.

I used black duck in this case, but this preparation would be particularly good with stronger flavoured ducks or geese that you may not want to eat plain.

Doubanjiang and Sichuan peppercorns are the two irreplaceable ingredients in this dish and can be sourced at any Asian grocer or even some large-scale grocery chains. Doubanjiang can often be found under the guise of Pixian broadbean paste, chilli bean paste, or chilli bean sauce. Be warned, the salt level changes from brand to brand. For the beer, I used Whitewater Brewing’s Farmer’s Daughter Blonde Ale from the Ottawa Valley, but you could use any easygoing lager, pilsner, or blonde.

Serve this dish in a communal bowl that everyone can pick out of, with individual bowls of rice to eat over and soak up some of the sauce. A tangy cold salad on the side is a good way to cut through some of the spice and richness. If picking through bones isn’t your thing, you could remove them before serving, but where’s the fun in that?

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Time to Cook:
1.5 hours
Servings:
4-6
Ingredients:
2lb+ duck
8 mushrooms, cut into bite sized chunks (shiitake, button, or wild would all work)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat of a knife but left whole
1 oz piece ginger, smacked with the flat of a knife and sliced into thick coins
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 black cardamom pod, bruised with the flat of a knife (optional)
3 dried arbol or Sichuan chilis, deseeded (optional)
2 whole star anise
2 tablespoons doubanjiang/chili bean sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 scallions, 2 chopped and 1 sliced for garnish
16 ounces beer
1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)
2 medium potatoes, cut into large bite sized cubes
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Preparation:
1. Use a cleaver or a heavy knife to carefully chop the duck into pieces. Wings can be split into flats and drummettes, drumsticks separated, thighs cut into two or three pieces and breasts cut into three or four pieces.
2. Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Throw in the duck pieces and boil for 3 minutes. Dump everything into the sink, then rinse off the duck pieces with cold water. This step removes impurities and the scum that rises up when simmering meat.
3. In a Dutch oven, sturdy pot, or wok, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the duck pieces and cook, flipping often, for 8-10 minutes or until the pieces are golden and the fat begins rendering.
4. Add in the spices, ginger, and garlic and fry for another 3-5 minutes.
5. Now add the doubanjiang/chili garlic sauce, dark soy, sugar, and 2 of the chopped scallions. Stir it in and cook for another 1 minute. Pour in the beer, cover with a lid, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes (longer if you have an old tough goose).
6. Take off the lid and add the peppers, jalapeños, mushrooms, and potatoes. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the potatoes, add in enough water or beer to just cover them. Simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft, letting the liquid mostly boil off.
7. Once the potatoes are softened to your liking, it’s time to serve! Transfer everything to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with the last sliced green onion and cilantro leaves. Serve with white rice, a sharp salad, and the same beer that you used to cook the duck. Enjoy!

Adam Berkelmans

Adam Berkelmans, also known as The Intrepid Eater, is a passionate ambassador for real food and a proponent of nose to tail eating. He spends his time between Ottawa and a cozy lake house north of Kingston, Ontario. When not cooking, he can be found hunting, fishing, foraging, gardening, reading, traveling, and discovering new ways to find and eat food.

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