This has always been one of my favourite dishes. In Australia when you order it the waiter will bring a whole duck on a trolley and slices of crispy skin to be eaten with the pancakes, cucumber and spring onion. The rest of the meat is prepared in your choice of dishes. While in Britain you get aromatic crispy duck with pancakes where you shred the meat and skin together and eat it with the pancakes (this dish is more a confit of duck than Peking Duck) and is actually Sichuan Crispy Duck, which is steamed and then deep fried and is accompanied by lettuce and spring onions rather than pancakes.
Peking Duck was created in 1855 in the Pen Yee Restaurant and was for the wealthy, with chefs needing to train for 3 months on the preparation of this dish. Preparing Peking Duck at home is time consuming but worth while. For the best results you need to inflate the duck, by blowing up the skin through a the neck end (if you don't feel up to it or you may try using a bicycle pump) but this step isn't necessary . Next boiling water with honey, wine, vinegar and ginger is poured over the duck to glaze it. The duck is then hung for 8-11 hours in a well ventilated place (this can be reduced by more than half by using a fan to dry the skin). Then traditionally the duck is cooked in clay oven with charcoal or coal, obviously this step is done in the oven in this recipe.