How to Roast a Duck

12/20/2017 08:06:00 AM

Roast duck

This year, one of my favourite meals to cook for friends or family has been roast duck. It's easy to make, and is very impressive. Most people seem of think of duck as restaurant food, but it's actually totally achievable for a home cook. I find roast duck good for small groups - one duck with sides serves four people, and makes a lovely treat of a meal. Ducks also seem to be pretty widely available at supermarkets and butchers, so are easy to find, even at this hectic time of year. Can I suggest cooking this either at Christmas, or one of the meals leading up to the big day?

I always serve my roast duck with roast potatoes (using Nigella's method and the rendered duck fat), red cabbage and cherry pie. It's the perfect combo!

So, why the duck obsession? You see, earlier this year I was invited to a duck cooking class at the Luv-a-Duck headquarters in Port Melbourne. It was a great class, no doubt helped by the fact that Wendy the teacher was a total duck expert and incredibly organised and efficient! In the short space of three hours, our group of eight people cooked lots of different duck dishes and learned heaps of new techniques, including duck Caesar salad with soft boiled eggs, duck risotto, orange-glazed duck breasts, braised duck legs in an Asian sauce, duck-fat roast potatoes, tea-smoked duck breasts with pickled grapes, salt pepper and chilli duck breast with cauliflower rice, and more! Phew! I'd definitely recommend one of their classes if you want to learn more about cooking duck! Here are some photos of the things we made:

Duck class

However, despite all that deliciousness, my favourite thing we made was a simple roast duck, all succulent meat and crispy skin.

Since the class, I've put my new found skills to good use, making roast duck a few times at home. I'll go through it in a bit more detail (including slightly gory preparation photos), but essentially what you need to do is roast the duck at 200C for 40 minutes a kilo. Easy! (Quite some time ago, I tried Nigella's poach-then-roast method of roasting duck, but this is much easier and works just as well, if not better.)

A bit of butchery is required - sharp knife and steady hands! (Having said that, if you're squeamish or not good with knives, I'm sure you could ask your butcher to prepare the duck for you).

Raw duck

You start by cutting off the wing tip (the bottom third of the wing), so it doesn't burn. You can keep these wing tips for stock or gravy. Then you need to chop off the neck. (Pretty much at that line of lights you see in the next photo, where the sun streaming through my kitchen window blinds is hitting the duck).

Raw duck

If you want to keep the neck for stock or gravy, and the skin for roasting potatoes, you'll need to peel the skin off the duck neck. You'll also need to remove the treachea and oesophagus and discard those (with apologies to those of you who are squeamish! I'm also assuming that any vegetarians have clicked off this page a long time ago...)

Trachea, Esophogus 

The final preparation step is to cut away any excess fat around the cavity. Strictly speaking, I think it's fine to roast the duck with the excess fat there, but you'll end up with lots of messy oil in the roasting tin. Even if you're saving the fat to roast potatoes, it's easier to remove it now, and render it separately in a little saucepan, rather than trying to spoon molten fat from the hot tray once the duck is roasted.

Prepped duck

A really great tip they taught us was to leave the duck uncovered on a tray, and let it rest in the fridge overnight (or a couple of days), to let the skin really dry out. (Just like I do when roasting pork for crackling!) This helps the skin go crispy when you roast it.

And when you do roast it, let it come up to room temperature while you pre-heat the oven to 200C, then roast it for 40 minutes per kilo. Ta-dah! Crispy roast duck! (I have noticed that the kitchen gets quite smoky when I roast duck, so it's a good idea to have the windows open or the exhaust fan on full blast).

Roast duck

You need to let it rest before carving it, for at least 30 minutes, but I usually give it an hour. (During which time I roast the potatoes and Sandra makes the red cabbage - teamwork!)

Duck-fat Roast potatoes

Red Cabbage

Cherry Pie

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Have you made duck at home before? How do you like to cook it? What's on the menu for Christmas?

Roast Duck
Recipe written by Sarah, method learned from Luv-A-Duck

1 x duck

Prepare the duck at least a day before you want to roast it, to give enough time for the skin to dry. This will help the duck get crisp.
Remove the duck from the plastic wrapping. Chop the wing tips off and reserve for stock or gravy. Using a sharp knife or cleaver, chop off the neck. Peel the fat off the neck and save it for roasting potatoes. There will be two tubes with the neck (the trachea and the oesophagus), pull these off and discard. If you like, save the neck for making stock or gravy. (Note - I'm pretty bad at making gravy so I usually don't bother with this, but perhaps you'll be more successful than I).
Trim any excess fat around the cavity. Save the fat for roasting potatoes.
Place the prepared duck on a rack in a roasting dish and place in the fridge. Leave uncovered at least overnight or for a couple of days, until the skin is nice and dry.
Preheat the oven to 190C, and remove the duck from the fridge to allow it to come to room temperature.
Roast the duck for 40 minutes per kilo, or until juices run clear.
Allow to rest for at least half an hour before carving.

Have you made this recipe? Leave a comment below! Tag me on Instagram @sarahcooksblog and hashtag #sarahcooksblog.

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  1. YUMM!! I love roast duck too. It's such a treat to do duck-and my dog adores it too so we always save her some.

  2. How good are the Luv-a-Duck cooking classes! Wendy makes everything look so easy!

    1. Yes! I love how she has everything in control and so many facts in her head! If I were running that class i'm sure I'd get overwhelmed halfway through and go cry in the corner!



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