Long cooking yields a tender duck with perfectly crisped skin—with amazingly little effort.
- 1 pekin (long island) duck
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
Set rack in the middle of the oven, then preheat oven to 300°. Rinse duck with cold water inside and out, then pat dry with paper towels. Discard any large pieces of fat from cavity, then trim off wing tips (reserve along with giblets for stock, if you like). Season cavity with salt and pepper to taste, then rub with garlic. Stuff cavity with a few sprigs of thyme.
Pierce duck skin and fat with a sharp paring knife—being careful not to cut into flesh—by inserting the tip of the knife on the diagonal (not straight in) and making dozens of slits all over the duck. Place duck, breast side up, on a rack set on a shallow roasting pan. Roast duck for 4 hours, removing bird from oven every hour and piercing skin and fat again, as described above, with the paring knife. (Each time you re-pierce duck, pour off fat and turn bird over, allowing it to roast for 2 hours total on each side.)
After 4 hours of roasting time, increase the oven temperature to 350°. Season the duck skin with salt and pepper and cook until the skin is crisp and browned, 1 hour more. Allow the duck to rest for 20 minutes, then garnish cavity with remaining fresh thyme, if you like. To serve, hack the duck into small pieces, bones and all, using a sharp cleaver.