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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Zombie Duck!

Well, that didn't take long.

It's not often something goes spectacularly wrong in the kitchen at my little pit of doom in East London, but when it does, it goes all the way.

The plan was to roast a whole duck. I got the duck at the local butchers just before Christmas, put it straight into the freezer, and spent a couple of happy hours researching recipes.

The plan was to have whole crispy-skinned roast duck with a soy and honey baste and some vegetables on the side.

What we got was... erm ... probably best described as crispy roast uck, with a side of potential plague. The four horsemen of the apocalypse rode through my kitchen and left holding their noses and gagging gently.

The first indication that something was wrong came around the beginning of the second hour of slow roasting, when an indescribable aroma began to fill up the flat.

Now, I've cooked duck before. Never a whole one, usually the legs and breast. It smells great. It does not smell like a werwolf rolled in a sewer and then duct-taped itself to an exhaust outlet.

I checked to make sure the giblets were out, and there weren't any feathers left. The duck had been defrosted and salted, and if the meat was off I'd expect to smell it at that point, or see discolouration. I wondered if some cleaning product had gotten into the oven.  I'd left some of the extra skin in the pan to get crispy so I took a tentative nibble. It tasted okay. Fifteen minutes later my mouth and throat were burning.

A skype conversation with the folks confirmed that duck shouldn't reek badly while cooking, so I decided to haul it out and see what the hell had happened.

By this point my cousin was walking around with her top pulled up over her nose and mouth, like an extra from a cowboy movie. The stench was dying down a little, so I pulled open the oven door and hauled The Bird That Shall Not Be Named out.

Stacey and I looked at it. At this point, I may have thrown up a little in my mouth.

The top of the bird had turned a hideous shade of grey-green. The meat on the legs had collapsed, leaving shards of brown bone sticking through. The sides were splitting and peeling apart. (The skin was crispy, though. Definitely got that bit right.)

By all appearances, I had just roasted seven shades out of zombie duck.

(I ate some of that. It was a nibble, true, but not the point. I ate some of that. I'm hoping not enough to get me sick.)

At this point the smell was overpowering, and both of us retreated from the kitchen to our respective bedrooms. The dialogue below is an extract of the text message conversation that followed.

Me: This is an ex-duck in every sense of the word. Chicken again?
Stacey: Maybe it shagged the dog. (When the smell started, she thought a dog had gotten in. A large, dirty, wet dog.)
Me: Fluffy duck! Or, Fluffy got ducked? 
Stacey: Fluffy got ducked then stuffed into a duck suit.
Me: Duffy does Fluffy?
Stacey: It could have been Pluto or Goofy.
Me: Duffy is a bad, bad duck.

Eventually, for the sanity of all concerned, Stacey got dressed for outdoors while I double-bagged Zombie Duck, and she took it downstairs to the outside bin.

I put on the extractor fan to the highest setting and scrubbed everything down with malt vinegar and soap.

We ordered Chinese takeaway, and I sulked over the perfect crispy duck pancakes that arrived as part of the order.


It's back to work for me tomorrow, so the blog posts will slow down a bit.  If anyone has any clue how I ended up roasting zombie duck, I'd love to hear it.

We've ended up putting a diffuser into the kitchen; as the smell of roast zombie duck faded, it started to smell more and more like said zombie duck defecated as it was hauled out of the kitchen.

There are easier ways to clear your sinuses.