Here’s one of those classic Caribbean curry dishes done a little different, to free up your time in the kitchen. Curry Duck is a hit on the islands, especially in Trinidad and Tobago where a large part of the population is of East Indian heritage (same can be said for Guyana as well) The duck of choice when making this type of curry is the Muscovy (Cairina moschata is a large duck native to Mexico, Central, and South America), which is traditionally raised by many village folks and farms for resale.
6-8 lbs duck (Muscovy works best)
2-3 tablespoon flour (for washing)
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon roasted geera (Cumin)
4-5 tablespoon curry powder
1 scotch bonnet pepper
2-3 tablespoon veg oil
4 birds eye pepper (optional)
2-3 tablespoon shado beni (chopped / divided.. aka culantro – or use cilantro if you want)
2 scallions (chopped)
2 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1 small onion
8-10 cloves garlic (small)
Optionally you can also add a thick slice of Ginger to the marinade.
Important: Have you butcher cut the duck for you with a band saw (and do ask him to skin it). The bones can be brittle, so the saw will give it a clean cut. Ask if they can flame-roast (to give it additional flavor and to get rid of baby feathers) and when washing DON’T use lime, lemon or vinegar as we do with other meats in the Caribbean. Acids will make the meat tough. Please watch the video below for more tips.
Place the cut duck into a large bowl, add the flour and mix well. Then add cool water and wash each piece individually. Rinse and drain in a drainer to get rid of as much water/blood as you can.
It’s now time to season and marinate the duck. Go in with all the ingredients EXCEPT (save 1/2 of the shado beni) the veg oil, onion, bird’s eye peppers garlic and curry powder (save 3 tablespoons.. use 1 tablespoon in the marinade). Mix well and allow to marinate (covered) overnight or for at least 4 hrs in the fridge.
While I did say this Curry Duck is cooked in the oven, we do have to start it on the stove top. If we don’t we’ll end up with a curry with a sort of RAW aftertaste, PLUS.. we really want to infuse the rich curry taste before it slowly braise in the oven (or slow cooker).
Heat the veg oil on medium high in a deep pot, then add the diced onion and crushed garlic. Turn the heat down to low and allow it to gently cook for 3-5 minutes (don’t burn). Then add the curry powder (about 3 tablespoons) and stir well. The heat will still be on low.. do add a bit more veg oil if it’s too dry. This step will toast all the spices which makes up the curry (I used a madras blend made in the Caribbean) and cook out that “raw” curry taste I mentioned earlier. If you want this curry duck more spicy you can add a bit of scotch bonnet pepper here as well. Cook low for 4-5 minutes.
While the curry base slowly cooks, preheat your oven to 375 F. Now crank up the heat to high, give it a minute or 2 to sizzle, then start adding the seasoned (and marinated) duck. Add a few pieces to start and mix well in the curry to coat things and to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add everything to the pot and stir well. Keep the heat to med/high, but keep the pot uncovered. Stir every 4-5 minutes and cook about 15 minutes on the stove.
Get a sturdy oven-proof dish ready. Now pour in everything from the pot (there will be some natural juices) into the baking dish, add the 4 bird’s eye peppers, seal tight with tin foil and place on the middle rack of your preheated 375 F oven. Now you can walk away for an hour.
After about an hour remove it from the oven (be careful when opening) and give it a good stir. Reseal with the tin foil and continue cooking for another hour. If after 2 hrs you find that the duck is still tough (highly unlikely) you can cook for another 30-45 mins (depends on the age of the duck your butcher sold you). IMPORTANT: The Muscovy ducks we get in Canada cooks faster compared to the sort of free-rage ducks you get in the Caribbean. So after 2 hrs of cooking in the oven it will be very tender. If you like your duck a little chewy you can cook for a bit shorter time.
If you find that after 2 hrs it’s not as dark as you like or the gravy is a bit runny you can crank up the heat in your oven to 425 F and cook it uncovered for a few minutes. Do taste it for salt and adjust accordingly as your tolerance/love for salt will be different than mine. As you remove it from the oven top with the reserved chopped shado beni (or cilantro). Your done! A classic curry done without much fuss and babysitting from you. Great for the holidays when you’re hosting family and friends and you’d like to spend time working on other things or with them. You can do this dish a day or two earlier (keep in the fridge) and reheat a few minutes before you’re ready to serve (in the oven).