Pile of Duck Pancakes from Chinese New Year’s Potluck
With apologies to all fellow #PiePartyGE attendees who were waiting for this recipe. Something named “Sandy” pre-empted the originally scheduled publishing of this post.
It all started innocently enough. I sent out a Tweet asking fellow #PiePartyGE attendees if I should try to recreate the Duck Pancakes that I made earlier this year for a Chinese New Year’s potluck into a pie for last week’s event. The response was overwhelmingly positive. So, then, I was on the hook to come up with just exactly how I would pull off this crazy idea.
First off, the main question was how to build a crust that would capture the same tastes and texture as the pancakes themselves. After mulling it over, drawing some diagrams, and talking to one of my chef contacts at school, I came up with the thought, “What about if the ‘crust’ was actually made of a scallion pancake.” Aha! That sort of became the eureka moment for pulling this whole thing together and to create the flavors for which I was looking.
The duck filling would be easy, as I decided to mimic the way that I’d constructed the pancakes, by using the whole roast duck recipe from Jamie Oliver that I’d used the last time. Then, I used a second scallion pancake as the top to the pie. Once the whole pie was baked, in order to get the Chinese-restaurant-style rolled pancake concept in every bite, I topped it with a slather of hoisin sauce, a handful of chopped scallions for crunch, some finely chopped cucumbers for freshness, and crumbled, crispy duck skin to add an extra pop of flavor.
The results must have been a success because folks dove on the pie once we were allowed to start sampling the entries for this year’s event. In fact, at one point, it was harder to get a spot at the savory pies table than it was to get one at the table filled with sweet pies. When I managed to get back to the place where I’d originally left my pie, I saw a slightly crumpled, disposable aluminum pan with a lonely piece of the scallion pancake shell and a few crumbs of meat and scallions left in it. The Duck Pie had been almost entirely demolished.
This pie wasn’t an entirely perfect production. While I did capture the flavors that I wanted to have, the scallion pancake made a tougher crust than the usual pie dough recipe. It also ended up being a bit difficult to cut through when the time came to serve it. I’m not sure if a looser dough would help to solve this problem. I might also add some extra hoisin sauce the next time to bake into the meat filling of the pie itself, as I’m a big fan of having that sauce with scallion pancakes and duck (often taking over a container of it just for myself, to be clear). The only other option I’m toying around with is how to make these into handpies or mini dumplings to make them easier to serve at next year’s gathering.
Peking Duck-style Duck Pie
Prep Time: 3 hours (includes time to roast the duck)
Serving Size: 8 portions
1 Whole Duck (this can be made with duck parts, too)
Chinese 5 Spice Powder
Ground Black Pepper
Toasted Sesame Oil
2 Scallions, white and green parts chopped finely
1/4 c. finely chopped Cucumbers
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place duck in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the outside of the duck with Chinese 5 Spice Powder, salt, and pepper. Rub seasoning into the skin. Pierce the skin in several places with a fork to allow the fat to render out while roasting.
Put the duck in the oven and cook for about two hours, basting every 10-15 minutes with the rendered duck fat so as to keep the skin crispy and to even out the cooking process. Remove the duck from the oven when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh and breast reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the meat cool while preparing the scallion pancake.
The duck can be roasted, the meat shredded, and then the meat stored in its own rendered fat for a couple of days prior to making the pie. To prepare the duck for filling the pie, heat the meat and the fat in a shallow pan and add extra Chinese 5 Spice Powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
About 30 minutes before the duck has finished roasting, being making the scallion pancakes according to this recipe. Instead of dividing the dough into four pieces, split it into two, making a top and a bottom crust for the pie. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly brush the pancake with toasted sesame oil. Place the pie pan with the scallion pancake into the oven and let it cook for about 20 minutes until lightly golden.
Remove the pie pan from the oven. Brush the pancake base with a light coat of hoisin sauce. Fill the pie shell with the shredded duck meat, drained of fat. Top the filling with the second scallion pancake. Brush that with some additional toasted sesame oil.
Place in the oven and cook for another 20-25 minutes, enough to heat the meat through and to allow the crust to turn a light golden brown. The pie can be served room temperature to warm, which made it a perfect dish to serve at the pie potluck. Prior to putting it out on the table, garnish it with more hoisin sauce, the scallions, and cucumbers. For an extra twist, fry up some of the duck skin and crumble it on top to add a bacon-y type, smoky crunch to the topping. Serve some extra hoisin sauce on the side.
Thank you to GE Monogram for hosting us in their gorgeous kitchen showroom space. Thanks as well to fellow sponsors Kerrygold USA, Smirnoff, Harvard Common Press, and Dub Pies for helping to make this gathering such a terrific event!