I browsed a few websites, pulled out my Martha Stewart cookbook and got an education in the culinary techniques of cooking the perfect duck. One very important step to ensure the skin is crispy and not fatty is to prick and slash the skin so the layer of fat insulating the duck can cook off. This is what my bird looked like:
After an hour of cooking (and then two more times) you will need to flip the bird, prick the skin the let the fat drain. The total cooking time was to be around four hours, I think I let mine roast around 3 hours and 45 minutes.
In the final half hour, I turned the heat up to 500 to crisp the skin even more and that worked for about 10 minutes until my smoke alarm went off.
The real key to successful duck is the rendering of the fat from the skin, if not treated properly it will give the meat a fatty bite or an off taste and the time spent roasting will be a waste. When roasted to perfection the skin is crispy and adds additional texture and flavor.
We enjoyed ours with a salad of baby spinach, strawberries, feta and cranberries.
It was a fun and tasteful experience! The cooking tips I found to be most helpful came from The Amateur Gourmet, which were based on the tips of kitchen maven, Martha Stewart.