This recipe uses an underground oven to cook the meal. Built into the earth, underground ovens are used to trap heat and bake, smoke, or steam food. Derek Nicholas from Division of Indian Work leads us through the process of crafting, prepping, and cooking a meal of peppery burdock-wrapped smoky duck and sweet squash using this traditional cooking structure at the Dream of Wild Health farm.
You can roast the duck in a traditional oven as well, for approximately three hours at 350 degrees F, rotating the duck after one hour, then every 40 minutes after.
Burdock-Wrapped Smoky Duck and Sweet Squash
1 acorn squash
1 whole duck
4 tbsp maple syrup, separated
1/4 cup sunflower seed oil
Handful of burdock leaves
To build the underground oven:
Dig a round pit 3’ wide by 3’ deep and line with field rocks – not river rocks (the moisture trapped inside can cause the rocks to explode when heated).
Build a fire inside of it and let it burn down.
While you wait for the fire to burn down, prepare the squash by cutting it in half and removing the seeds. Drizzle the squash with 2 tbsp sunflower oil, season with salt, and drizzle with 2 tbsp maple syrup. Wrap the squash in two layers of aluminum foil.
Prepare the duck in the same fashion- drizzle the duck with 2 tbsp sunflower oil, season with salt, and drizzle with 2 tbsp maple syrup. Wrap the duck in burdock leaves and use twine to secure them around the duck.
When the fire has burned down to coals, remove or scoot some of the bed of coals away to make room for the duck and squash. Lay some burdock leaves onto the coals, then place the duck, breast side down on the leaves. Place the squash on top. Place hot rocks around the duck and squash, cover with damp plywood, and cover with dirt to cook for about two hours.
The duck is done when it reaches a minimum temperature throughout the bird of 165 °F.
Recipe provided by Derek Nicholas, Division of Indian Work