Whole Roasted Duck Recipe
Slow-roasted duck is delicious plain or with herbs and vegetables.
Reading Time: 5 minutes
If the idea of preparing a roasted duck recipe makes you nervous, you’re not alone. The first time I roasted a duck was in a class on Shaker cooking and I was one anxious cook. It was a Christmas feast and duck was the entree. I was surprised and more than pleasantly pleased at how simple it was. The bonus? I learned that duck meat is actually quite lean — most of the fat is under the skin and drains off during roasting. Chefs consider the fat to be liquid gold! And the duck did not taste gamey at all.
If you can roast chicken or turkey, you can roast duck!
The roasted duck recipes I’m sharing today are the result of my friend and neighbor, Erin Phillips’ (www.phillipsfarmbatavia.com) challenges with her male ducks. Too many males vs. not enough females resulted in safety concerns for the females. So, Erin harvested some of the males, and I was one of the lucky recipients of a home harvested Pekin duck.
EASY TO ROAST
There are as many methods as there are cooks. Some roast them at a very high 500-degree temperature. Others go for the 250-degree long, slow roasting method. Either produce excellent results.
Roast duck is a mouthwatering dish whether roasted plain, with vegetables, or aromatics such as herbs and wine. Duck does not have both white and dark meat like chicken. Duck meat will be dark throughout with breast meat a bit lighter in color.
I’m giving you two easy master roasted duck recipes, one for a fairly high-roasted duck and the other for a very low-roasted duck. You choose which method works for you.
FIRST, GET THE DUCK READY FOR ROASTING
- If the duck has been frozen, thaw in the refrigerator.
- Remove neck and giblets. Save the heart and gizzard for stock. Substitute duck liver for chicken liver in recipes. (Duck rumaki is yummy!)
- If you like, cut off the wing tip joints and save them for stock.
- Cut off excess neck skin.
- Rinse duck with cool water and pat dry.
- Regardless of the roasting temperature, the duck should be placed on a rack in the roasting pan or atop vegetables. My choice is vegetables.
- To have crisp skin, you need to pierce the skin to allow fat to drain out as the duck roasts. I like to score the skin on the top, but you can prick it with a sharp knife, piercing it all over.
- Be careful not to pierce the meat underneath the skin. That results in dry duck meat.
HIGH-ROASTED DUCK WITH ROOT VEGETABLES
The amounts of seasoning, onion, and potatoes are for a duck up to about four pounds. If larger, adjust as needed.
- 1 duck, washed and dried.
- 1½ teaspoons each: seasoned or regular salt and freshly ground pepper.
- 1½ teaspoons sweet paprika (optional but good).
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into thick wedges.
- Potatoes — I used small, whole, unpeeled, enough to cover bottom of roasting pan. Use whatever kind you like.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Mix seasonings together and pat all over the duck, both inside and out.
- Score skin or prick all over with a sharp knife.
- Place onions and potatoes in the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Pour a little water or wine around them. (Liquid helps keep the fat from splattering out of the pan).
- Place duck, breast side up, on top.
- Roast, uncovered, about 20 minutes per pound, or until breast temperature registers 165 degrees F. If the skin is browning too quickly, tent with foil and remove last 20 minutes of roasting time. Mine was 3½ pounds and took 1½ hours.
- Remove from oven, tent with foil for 15-20 minutes, then carve into serving pieces. Serve with onions and potatoes alongside. Drizzle some of the drippings over the meat and vegetables.
SLOW ROASTED DUCK WITH ROOT VEGETABLES
The only difference here is the roasting temperature and time it takes to cook properly. This roasted duck recipe is from Erin’s friend, Katie, who was also the recipient of a duck. Katie chose a slow roast method. Time will depend upon the size of the duck so keep that in mind, checking as necessary. Katie’s duck was larger than my 3½-pound duck and took seven hours. Katie told me: “Since everything was slow roasting, nothing became mushy but the potatoes did absorb some of the fat and they became the most decadent baked potatoes.”
- Prepare duck and vegetables as indicated in high-roast duck.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Roast uncovered until internal breast temperature registers 165 degrees F.
SAVE THE FAT!
- Strain and freeze. Use for frying and seasoning.
MAKE STOCK FROM CARCASS
- Simply place the carcass in a large pot, cover with water and add aromatics such as herbs and or carrots, onions and celery.
- Add a splash of organic apple cider vinegar. This draws collagen and minerals from the bones. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for an hour or so.
- To make bone broth, continue to cook for another couple of hours.
- Strain, and refrigerate or freeze, or process by canning.
IS IT DONE?
- The USDA recommends cooking duck to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.
- The trend is to roast it to a bit lower temperature, around 140 or so. You decide.
- Juices run clear yellow when the duck is done. Check out https://honest-food.net/wild-game/duck-goose-recipes/ for some good information on roasting duck and other game.
PAPRIKA: Sweet vs. hot
- Paprika is made from crushed dried chilies, either sweet or hot.
- In smoked paprika, the chilies are smoke-dried before crushing. If paprika is listed in a recipe, use sweet unless otherwise instructed.
- Store paprika in a cool, dark place. Give it the sniff test. An aroma of dried chilies should waft out. If not, toss it in the compost pile and buy new.
GILDING THE LILY
- Citrus–stuffed duck: Quarter a lemon and chunk up an orange. Place in duck cavity after seasoning. Want to go a step further? Toss in a few cloves of garlic, too. Remove before serving.
- Herb-stuffed duck: Quarter a lemon and place in duck cavity after seasoning. Add sprigs of herbs: tarragon, parsley, and thyme are yummy. So are basil and rosemary. Remove before serving.
Have you successfully roasted a duck? Do you have any roasted duck recipes to share? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally published in the October/November 2019 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.