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The Hottest Whole Duck in Denver Is in Lowry at Lucky Cat

Chef Troy Guard is skilled with the whole bird game

Troy Guard's new Chinese eatery, Lucky Cat, is all about fun. The space, the vibe and the menu all emanate a playfulness. This dish, the whole duck, is no different.

It comes on a platter with enough food for a family. You get a big bird, fried rice with house-made kimchi, sautéed choi sum, scallion pancakes, and dipping sauces.

"This is an adventurous way to have dinner," says chef Brent Calley. "Kids get to play with their food and it's an experience you can't have anywhere else in Denver."

The goal with adding this dish to the menu was to bring families in. And in the growing Lowry neighborhood, it's a great place to do that.

The duck is no small feat, which is why you have to call ahead at least 48 hours if you're planning on ordering it. Chef starts with the same ducks served in Beijing. "This is very authentic and traditional. The only difference between here and China is that we hang them in the refrigerator instead of outside."

He guts the bird, then loosens its skin by filling it with air. He boils it in water with star anise and orange zest, then stuffs it with a hoisin sauce and spices. He stretches the skin one more time, then sews it up before another quick simmer on the stovetop.

He then uses a sweet and fruity glaze, which he calls lacquer, before hanging it up for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

The next day, the ducks gets cooked with a careful eye at some very precise temperatures. From the oven, it gets plated with all the accoutrements and is ready for eating.

"It's crispy, fruity, and gamey. And truly a family adventure. People need to bring their kids in to try this."