A lifelong outdoorsman, chef Matthew McClure grew up hunting and fishing in the Arkansas River Valley. At his Bentonville, Ark., restaurant, The Hive, he showcases the culinary identity of the High South through his refined, country cuisine, and highlights the local ingredients and purveyors of the region. As evidence of his Arkansas roots, he offers up this take on classic roasted duck. With a heavy dose of sorghum syrup and relish made from pecans, the recipe exudes sweet Southern soul. McClure, a James Beard best-chef semi-finalist, uses a dry brine to help the duck absorb more flavors from the poaching liquid and to stay moist during the high-heat roast. The brine does take a few days, however, so plan ahead.
1 whole duck, dressed and plucked
½ box kosher salt
1½ gallons water
1 cup honey
1 pint sorghum
2 bay leaves
1 tbs black peppercorns
2 whole dried guajillo peppers
1. Salt the duck and then hang overnight in a refrigerator. Rinse with water and re-hang in a refrigerator, preferably in a spot that has ample airflow, for 48 hours.
2. Mix the sorghum, honey, and spices with the water and bring to a boil.
3. Poach the duck breast side-down for about 7 minutes and then place duck on a sheet tray with a roasting rack. Go directly into a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the leg is easily pulled loose from the body.
1 cup toasted pecans (chopped)
¼ cup minced shallots
Juice of one lemon
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
1. Mix the shallots with the lemon juice and let sit for an hour.
2. Mix the pecans, parsley, and olive oil. Fold in the shallots, and salt to taste.