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Roast duck: a recipe for the uninitiated

Often considered exotic or heavy, roast duck is actually a deliciously easy dinner entrée.

If it were true that you are what you eat, I'd have feathers, webbed feet, and probably be a better swimmer.

Any friends who have dined in my home over the years can attest to my fondness for duck. There's always at least one in my freezer. Two on a good day. And when they're on sale, out go the ice-cube trays and frozen pizzas.

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My love for the canard goes way back to my preteen days. Every spring, Mother and I would head to Boston, where we would pick up three ducklings to bring home and raise for meat. It was an unsentimental exercise even though they were allowed to paddle in the bath with me and had free range of the garden.

In the following decades my fondness for duck has turned a culinary and international corner. I've supped on smoked duck in Bali; spicy breast of duck with spicy noodles in Singapore's night market; and in Taiwan, duck appeared twice in a 19-course meal, first as Peking duck, then hours later as duck soup.

Nothing, though, beats a simple crispy-skinned, succulent roast duck cooked at home.

I'm surprised when dinner guests remark that they have never served duck. "I've never even seen it at the supermarket," they might say. Or, "I haven't a clue how to cook one." Or, "Aren't they greasy?" Someone even remarked, "I thought you could only get duck in a French or Chinese restaurant."

My quick answers:

1. Ask. Check the frozen-food section.

2. If you can roast a chicken, you can roast a duck.

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3. Prick the skin to release the fat.

4. You can prepare a duck dinner as good as one at any French restaurant. Here's how: