Monday, January 11, 2010

Blue Mondays and Roast Duck

Last Monday, I roasted a whole duck and today (another Monday!), I read that there's something known as Blue Mondays. Apparently, Blue Monday is the most depressing day of the year. Heh, I'm not saying it's scientific but it's interesting nevertheless that it has been calculated that Blue Mondays always happen in January due to the combination of cold weather, bygone holidays and failing New Year resolutions.

So, speaking of Blue Mondays and failing New Year resolutions, I want to do a quick epilogue to my last post of 2009. In that post, I shared that I started my plan to lose 50 pounds in Oct. 2008. I reached my goal at the end of last year. It wasn't easy.

It wasn't always easy to stick to my diet of 1200-1400 calories per day. But I knew it wasn't really a diet; it was a lifestyle modification and balancing foods I love so I still ate my favorite foods like white rice (I'm Chinese! What do you expect?), red meat and sweets but in small portions and I kept myself full by eating smaller meals often and eating snacks like almonds, fruit, egg whites and yogurt. And I drank lots of water and kept sugary drinks and juices to a minimum. I have to admit limiting alcohol isn't as easy :P

It was hard to keep up my gym schedule which was 4 to 5 times a week. There were many times when I just sat on the exercise mat at YMCA and just wanted to cry (or did cry) because I was bored by my routine or frustrated by my lack of progress in terms of weight-loss or muscle/tone gain. It's so easy to give up when you hit a weight-loss plateau. I'm lucky to work at a company that introduced me to Core Performance last year; they got me off my plateau and breathed new life into my exercise routine. I'm still working out 4 to 5 times a week but I look forward to it now because I love the trainers and the variety in my programs there. In addition to helping me meet my goals, I'm also more energetic, healthy and fit to tackle other outdoor activities I've always wanted to try. There are still days when it's hard because work or life is driving me crazy but the trainers at Core are great and very supportive and they always guide me through my workout. And I've learned a little mental trick. If I find myself making a million excuses to not go workout, I remind myself that it clears my mind, gives me more energy and also, I don't have to go for the full hour - 30 minutes is better than nothing.

It's difficult fighting the mental battle everyday too. However, you have to remember why you're doing it and not lose sight of your goal, your determination and what you have to do to reach your goal. But don't drive yourself crazy and remember to take it one day at a time. For a period, I weighed myself every day which was great encouragement when I was losing the first twenty pounds rapidly but then when I plateaued, it was pure agony. So, switch your routine and try new tricks if something is driving you crazy. And sure, have one bite of that chocolate cake.

So beware of those Blue Mondays this month and don't give up on your New Year resolutions this year. It's hard to change eating habits and keep up an exercise routine but remember that this is for yourself. So be good to yourself!

I have 10 more pounds to go and I'd like to achieve more toning and muscle. I don't expect it to be easy. I know I'll have my share of Blue Mondays which I'm sure aren't restricted to Mondays or January but I have determination, Core Performance and my results so far to keep me going. And I'm good to myself so I work out...and then I reward myself with Oven-Roast Duck :)

I roasted this last Monday and shared it with a friend and my sister. It definitely wasn't a Blue Monday! I think this is pretty easy to make; my uncle taught me this simple roast duck recipe a few years ago and I love it.

Oven-Roasted Duck

Prep Work
  • Buy fresh, whole duck (I got mine from Superior Poultry in Chinatown)
  • Cut and discard the duck's head and feet (not the drumsticks!)
  • Cut the long neck as close to the body as possible and set aside
  • Clean cavity thoroughly (make sure to take out the lungs and any other bits that may not have been cleaned well by the poultry shop) and wash duck inside and out with water
  • Make sure you pat the inside and outside of the duck very dry with paper towels.
  • Line 2 large trays with foil and put a roasting rack on one of them. (It's fine if you only have one tray. It'll just be a little more work for you.)
  • After prepping the duck, sprinkle kosher salt and ground white pepper liberally in the cavity of the duck
  • Sprinkle lots of garlic salt, kosher salt and some white pepper outside of the duck. Don't forget to marinate the neck too.
  • Wrap in a ziplock bag or on a tray and put it in the fridge to marinate at least for 2 hours (3 to 4 hours is best if you can afford the time).

  • Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit
  • Truss the duck - This video should help if you don't know how to truss.
  • Place duck - breast side up on the rack. The neck can go on the side of the tray.
  • Cook for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • Then take the duck out of the oven. Take the neck out to avoid overcooking - cool and enjoy - preferably with a beer.
  • Flip the duck so it's breast-side down now. Transfer the duck to the second foil-lined tray and return to the oven. If you're only using one tray, then discard excess duck fat as best you can with a spoon before returning to the oven. There will be lots of fat! (Tip: I like to save my duck fat to fry potatoes and cook.)
  • Cook for another 35 minutes depending on color. It's done if it looks crisp and brown.
  • Then take the duck out again, discard excess duck fat if necessary.
  • Set oven to 450 degrees and flip duck one last time so it's breast-side up and return to the oven for about 15-20 min to crisp the breast. Or, use broiler if you have it but watch it carefully to the duck doesn't burn.
  • When done, take the duck out and let rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
  • If you trussed the duck well, the cavity will hold a lot of juices from the duck so try to carefully pour that into a bowl and you can use that to make a nice gravy sauce to go with the duck. Just mix in a little salt and cornstarch and pour into a saucepan to reduce on low heat.

Superior Poultry
750 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-7645
*Open Mon-Sat 9am to 6pm and Sun 9am to 5pm. There's a giant chicken on the top of the store so it's hard to miss. They sell a variety of fresh chickens and duck, quail and I think rabbit too.

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