The day before: strip out any excess fat from inside the duck carcass and push a butcher’s hook in at the neck end from which to suspend the duck. With a needle, carefully prick the duck skin all over - you want to pierce the skin but not push the point into the meat.
Make the glaze: peel and chop the ginger. Put this and the other glaze ingredients into a pot large enough to hold the duck. Add 850 ml/1½ pt of water. Boil and stir to mix and dissolve the honey.
Put the duck in the pot and baste it until it has an even coating. Then hang it up to dry in a cool airy spot overnight. If you are doing this in the summer and it is too hot to leave the bird out overnight, hang it to dry in front of a fan for 1 hour or bribe a child to blow it with a hair-dryer on cold. The skin should be dry and shiny.
Put 300 ml/½ pt water in a roasting tin. Sit the duck, breast side down, on a rack over it and cook for 1 hour. Then turn it breast side up and
While the duck is crisping, start making the pilaf: peel and dice the onion and sweat it in 55 g/2 oz butter until translucent. Add the rice and almonds and turn to coat.
If cooking in a saucepan, boil the stock and pour it over. Stir, add 2 teaspoons of salt and put on a lid. Return to the boil, turn the heat right down and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in the grapes and remaining butter, turn to mix and heat the grapes through.
If using a steamer, fry the onion, almonds and rice in a pan before transferring to the steamer and adding the manufacturer’s recommended amount of liquid. When done, stir in the grapes and butter, put the lid back on and leave for 10 minutes to heat through
When the duck is ready, transfer to a serving dish and keep warm while resting for 20 minutes before carving.
Cut the breasts off the duck, cut off the legs and thighs and reserve the carcass for stock. Transfer the pilaf to a warmed serving dish and fluff with a fork before serving.
© 1995 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.