Arkansas Barbecued Duck

Because of its ample fat, duck (like goose) has been barbecued in the South for centuries, and none is so prized as the noble, green-headed mallards that migrate by the millions each year to the marshy rice fields of eastern Arkansas. Barbecue, in fact, is as much a religion in Arkansas as in North Carolina, and legend has it that at one particular Fourth of July feast, where everything from oxen to venison to bear was thrown on the grate over an open fire, barbecued duck was served for dessert! Flames do tend to leap up when duck is barbecued, so if you’re not yet adept at moving the pieces away from the “hot spots” on the grill, you might want to push the coals to the edges and cook the duck over an aluminum drip pan positioned in the center.

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • One 5- to 6-pound dressed duck, quartered

Method

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the duck, whisk till the sauce is well blended, and set aside.

Place the duck quarters on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, remove and discard part of the excess fat. Place the quarters with the skin side down and pound them with a mallet as flat as possible. Arrange in a deep dish or pan, pour the sauce over the top, cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate 1 hour.

When the duck has marinated about 30 minutes, ignite a single layer of charcoal briquets in an outdoor grill, let them burn till ashen (30 to 45 minutes), and place the grill rack about 6 inches from the coals.

Remove the duck quarters from the marinade, place skin side down on the grill, and cook about 40 minutes or till the flesh is tender and the skin crisp, turning the pieces often and basting with the marinade. (Do not overcook or allow the coals to flare up.)

Transfer the duck to a serving platter and serve immediately.