Yield: 4 servings
|1 teaspoon||Thyme, whole dried|
|2||Bay leaf; crumbled|
|--- Food & Wine magazine|
|1 tablespoon||Kosher salt|
|1 tablespoon||Sugar, brown|
|5||Red cabbage leaves|
Cut off the wingtips from the duck and wrap them up with the giblets for making stock. Pull out and discard any loose interior fat.
Rinse the duck inside and out and pat dry, inside and out. Mix together in a spice mill or mortar the peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, cloves and salt. Grind to a fine texture. Combine in a small dish with the brown sugar and brandy. Place the duck in a heavy plastic bag that fits snugly. Rub half the spice mixture inside the duck and the remaining half over the outside. Place the garlic in the duck's cavity. Close the bag tightly and refrigerate 24 hours, rubbing the surface and squeezing in the spices occasionally. Remove the duck from the bag and gently pat it dry. Set it on a cake rack over a plate and return it, uncovered, to the refrigerator for another 24 hours or so, turning it once. Pat the duck to dry it thoroughly (if not already dry) and let it come to room temperature (at least two hours). Preheat the oven to 300. Using a large needle and white cotton thread, sew closed the neck and tail openings.
Place the duck on its side on a rack set in a roasting pan. Roast the duck for 45 minutes. With the needle, prick the fatty parts on the upper side; do not prick deeply enough to pierce the flesh. Grab the duck by the legs and turn it over onto the other side. Increase the oven temperature to 350 and roast 30 minutes. Price the fatty parts on the upturned side and then turn the duck onto its breast. Increase the heat to 400 and roast about 30 minutes longer, or until the duck is deeply browned and most of the fat has melted away. Remove from the oven and let cool 1 to 3 hours before serving. To serve: Using a heavy cleaver or poultry shears, cut through flesh and bone of the duck carefully to make about 12 to 14 serving pieces, keeping the skin neatly intact on each piece. Spread the cabbage leaves over a platter, shallow basket or wooden bowl and arrange the duck on them.
If the duck is to be served hot, arrange the cut pieces in a pan in a single layer, cut side down, and roast in a preheated 350 oven 15 minutes.