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How to Roast a Whole Duck

Updated on March 17, 2016
Freshly roasted whole duck
Freshly roasted whole duck

Duck is often perceived to be greasy, fatty, overly tough - or even all three! Where duck is cooked properly, however, it can be deliciously tender and though perhaps that little bit more substantial and fattier than either chicken or turkey, at least every bit as enjoyable. Although a whole duck can very effectively be grilled or barbecued outdoors, when it is cooked indoors, it should be roasted in the oven. This incredibly simple recipe sees it cooked with a basic clementine orange and thyme stuffing before being served with both mashed and roasted potatoes and broccoli.

As an added bonus, this page will also show how to make duck stock from the carcass of the bird and thereafter a delicious duck and chestnut soup.

Cook Time

  • Prep time: 30 min
  • Cook time: 2 hours 30 min
  • Ready in: 3 hours
  • Yields: 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared duck of around 5lb
  • 2 clementines or other small oranges, halved
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Olive oil, for greasing roasting tray
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 to 6 baby new potatoes per person
  • 1 large baking potato per person, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 head of broccoli, broken in to florets
  • 1oz (quarter stick) butter
  • White pepper
  • Chopped parsley for garnishing

Preparing the Duck for Roasting

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Supermarket packaged fresh duckDuck is removed from all packagingGiblets are removed from duck cavity and excess skin and fat is cut awayClementine oranges are halved fro stuffing in to duckDuck skin is pierced all over with a sharp skewerStuffed duck is ready for the oven
Supermarket packaged fresh duck
Supermarket packaged fresh duck
Duck is removed from all packaging
Duck is removed from all packaging
Giblets are removed from duck cavity and excess skin and fat is cut away
Giblets are removed from duck cavity and excess skin and fat is cut away
Clementine oranges are halved fro stuffing in to duck
Clementine oranges are halved fro stuffing in to duck
Duck skin is pierced all over with a sharp skewer
Duck skin is pierced all over with a sharp skewer
Stuffed duck is ready for the oven
Stuffed duck is ready for the oven
  1. If your duck is frozen, remember it is vital to defrost it completely in an appropriate dish in the bottom of the refrigerator before it can be cooked. This is likely to take at least twenty-four hours. It should then be removed from the refrigerator and left for a couple of hours to reach room temperature.
  2. Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C. Remove any and all packaging from the duck and above all, remember to take the giblets out of the belly cavity. You may also want to cut away the excess loose skin and fat from around the opening of the cavity.
  3. Wash the duck in cold water and carefully pat it dry with kitchen paper. Season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with the four clementine halves and the dried thyme. Weigh the duck after it is stuffed to establish the cooking time which should be twenty minutes per pound and twenty extra minutes.
  4. Lightly oil a roasting tray and sit the duck in the centre, breasts side up. Use a metal skewer or large needle to pierce the skin of the duck, all over the breasts and thighs. This is to allow the skin to crisp up. Be careful only to go through the skin, however, and don't pierce deep in to the meat.
  5. Season the surface of the duck well with salt.

How to Roast a Duck and Prepare the Accompaniments

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Potatoes are chopped for boilingRoast duck is removed from ovenDuck is sat in an appropriate dish to restBroccoli is broken in to florets for boilingCooked and cooled baby potatoes are peeled for roasting
Potatoes are chopped for boiling
Potatoes are chopped for boiling
Roast duck is removed from oven
Roast duck is removed from oven
Duck is sat in an appropriate dish to rest
Duck is sat in an appropriate dish to rest
Broccoli is broken in to florets for boiling
Broccoli is broken in to florets for boiling
Cooked and cooled baby potatoes are peeled for roasting
Cooked and cooled baby potatoes are peeled for roasting
  1. Put the duck in to the oven and leave it alone to cook for the allotted time you have established from its weight.
  2. Put the baby potatoes in to a pot of cold salted water and bring the water to a simmer for twenty-five minutes. Drain, return to the pot, cover and leave to cool completely.
  3. Take the duck from the oven and pierce the thickest part of the thigh to ensure it is ready and the juices run clear. Very carefully, lift it with two large carving forks or slotted spoons to a deep dish to rest for twenty to thirty minutes, being sure to tilt it and let the juices from the cavity run out in to the roasting tray.
  4. Peel and roughly chop the large potatoes. Bring to a simmer in some lightly salted water for about twenty minutes or until soft. Drain, return to the pot and leave to steam for a few minutes to get rid of the excess moisture. Mash with the butter and some white pepper.
  5. Break the broccoli in to florets and simmer in boiling, salted water for ten minutes. Drain through a colander.
  6. Peel the skin off the cooled baby potatoes by hand. Deep fry in hot oil for five to six minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper on a plate.

Carving and Serving the Duck

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Roast duck ready for carvingRemoving the first leg from the roast duckSecond leg is removed from roast duckRemoving the wings from the roast duckFirst breast fillet is sliced from the roast duckSecond breast fillet is sliced from roast duckRoast duck portions Duck breasts are sliced for servicePlating roast duck for service
Roast duck ready for carving
Roast duck ready for carving
Removing the first leg from the roast duck
Removing the first leg from the roast duck
Second leg is removed from roast duck
Second leg is removed from roast duck
Removing the wings from the roast duck
Removing the wings from the roast duck
First breast fillet is sliced from the roast duck
First breast fillet is sliced from the roast duck
Second breast fillet is sliced from roast duck
Second breast fillet is sliced from roast duck
Roast duck portions
Roast duck portions
Duck breasts are sliced for service
Duck breasts are sliced for service
Plating roast duck for service
Plating roast duck for service
  1. When the duck is rested, use a carving fork to remove and discard the orange halves. Lift the duck to a chopping board for carving.
  2. Cut the legs off first. Hold the bird steady with the carving fork and cut through the flesh all the way around the first leg until the bone can be popped free and the leg lifted away. Repeat with the second leg.
  3. The wings should be removed in the same way but are a little bit more awkward.
  4. Starting immediately to one side of the top breastbone, cut through the flesh, allowing the knife to be guided by the bones, until each breast fillet in turn can be removed. Cut each breast fillet across the way in to four or five thick wedges.
  5. Plate the duck, the potatoes and the broccoli. Garnish will a little chopped parsley immediately before service.

Roast duck with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes and broccoli
Roast duck with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes and broccoli

How to Make Duck Stock or Broth

When a duck has been carved as described above, their will be a reasonable amount of meat left on the carcass. This meat can be picked by hand from the bird and used for any one of a number of later purposes, while the bones of the carcass can be used to make delicious duck stock or broth.

Below you will find instructions for making firstly duck broth and subsequently using it to make a cream of chestnut and roast duck soup.

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 hours 15 min

Cook time: 2 hours

Ready in: 4 hours 15 min

Yields: 3 or 4 pints of duck broth

Ingredients

  • 1 duck carcass
  • Duck giblets
  • Excess fat and skin trimmed from the duck (if applicable)
  • 2 sticks of celery, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Sea salt

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Roast duck carcass with serving portions removedRemaining meat is plucked by hand from duck carcassDuck carcass and giblets are added to the stock potVegetables for making duck stockChopped vegetables for duck stockDuck stock solid ingredients and seasoningsWater is added to the duck remains and vegetables to ensure everything is fully coveredSolids are lifted out of the cooked and cooled stock with a large slotted spoonDuck stock is passed through a paper lined sieve to remove smallest impurities and fat
Roast duck carcass with serving portions removed
Roast duck carcass with serving portions removed
Remaining meat is plucked by hand from duck carcass
Remaining meat is plucked by hand from duck carcass
Duck carcass and giblets are added to the stock pot
Duck carcass and giblets are added to the stock pot
Vegetables for making duck stock
Vegetables for making duck stock
Chopped vegetables for duck stock
Chopped vegetables for duck stock
Duck stock solid ingredients and seasonings
Duck stock solid ingredients and seasonings
Water is added to the duck remains and vegetables to ensure everything is fully covered
Water is added to the duck remains and vegetables to ensure everything is fully covered
Solids are lifted out of the cooked and cooled stock with a large slotted spoon
Solids are lifted out of the cooked and cooled stock with a large slotted spoon
Duck stock is passed through a paper lined sieve to remove smallest impurities and fat
Duck stock is passed through a paper lined sieve to remove smallest impurities and fat
  1. Pick the remaining meat from the carcass and store in a plastic container in the fridge.
  2. Place the carcass in to a large stock pot along with the giblets and fatty skin earlier taken from the duck.
  3. Add the vegetables and seasonings and pour in enough cold water to completely cover all the solids.
  4. Put the pot on a high heat until the water begins to boil. Reduce the heat to achieve a gentle simmer, cover and cook for two hours.
  5. Switch off the heat and leave to cool for at least a couple of hours.
  6. When the stock/broth has cooled sufficiently, use a large, slotted spoon to remove and discard all the solids.
  7. Strain the remaining broth through a kitchen paper lined colander or sieve and the broth is ready to use.

Freshly made duck broth
Freshly made duck broth

Cream of Chestnut and Roast Duck Soup Recipe

Cream of chestnut and roast duck soup is served garnished with a little parsley and with some crusty bread on the side
Cream of chestnut and roast duck soup is served garnished with a little parsley and with some crusty bread on the side

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 hours 15 min

Cook time: 45 min

Ready in: 3 hours

Yields: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pints fresh duck stock
  • 1lb potatoes
  • 1/2lb roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 1/2 pint double (heavy) cream
  • Leftover duck meat picked from carcass
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly chopped parsley to garnish
  • Crusty bread to serve

Instructions

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Duck stock base for soupPotatoes and chestnuts represent the initial solid additions to the soupPotatoes are peeled and chopped for chestnut and duck soupPotatoes and chestnuts in duck stock are blitzedCream is poured in to the pureed potatoes, chestnuts and duck stockDuck is chopped to the desired size before being added to the soupChopped duck is added to the cream of chestnut soupCream of chestnut and roast duck soup ready for service
Duck stock base for soup
Duck stock base for soup
Potatoes and chestnuts represent the initial solid additions to the soup
Potatoes and chestnuts represent the initial solid additions to the soup
Potatoes are peeled and chopped for chestnut and duck soup
Potatoes are peeled and chopped for chestnut and duck soup
Potatoes and chestnuts in duck stock are blitzed
Potatoes and chestnuts in duck stock are blitzed
Cream is poured in to the pureed potatoes, chestnuts and duck stock
Cream is poured in to the pureed potatoes, chestnuts and duck stock
Duck is chopped to the desired size before being added to the soup
Duck is chopped to the desired size before being added to the soup
Chopped duck is added to the cream of chestnut soup
Chopped duck is added to the cream of chestnut soup
Cream of chestnut and roast duck soup ready for service
Cream of chestnut and roast duck soup ready for service
  1. Pour the duck stock in to your soup pot. Peel and chop the potatoes before adding them to the stock. Bring the stock to a simmer and cover for half an hour or until the potatoes are soft.
  2. The chestnuts in this recipe were bought precooked, peeled and vacuum packed. You could if you wish use freshly roasted and peeled chestnuts. Add them to the stock and softened potatoes.
  3. Putting hot liquid in to a food processor can cause all sorts of problems. In order to eliminate this risk, simply leave the part made soup covered to cool for a couple of hours.
  4. Blend the stock, potatoes and chestnuts until smooth. You will of course have to do this in stages. Return to the pot, pour in the cream and stir well
  5. Chop the duck moderately finely and add it to the soup. Heat just until the soup starts to reach a simmer. Do not boil!
  6. Ladle the soup in to serving bowls. Garnish with the parsley and serve with the bread.

Comments

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    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 23 months ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      So happy it turned out well for you, Molly. Thanks for letting me know and hope you have the opportuinity to enjoy duck many times going forward :)

    • Molly Brose profile image

      Molly Brose 2 years ago from Pennsylvania, United States of America

      Thank you for your informative Hub! We bought an over eight pound duck on sale after the holidays and cooked, carved & made the broth using your methods! Our duck crisped niceley and we have so much broth! Happy cooking!

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      I hope you enjoy it, Nell. It's a beautiful type of meat. Thanks for visiting, Gordon

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Prasetio. Good to hear from you. Yes, love of duck - me, too! Thank you very much for visiting and commenting.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      I had duck sandwich once, but to be honest I couldn't really taste it, so I would definitely give it a try. You have given a great detailed hub on how to cook it, so this will be great if I do give it a go, thanks for the info, voted up! nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      I had duck sandwich once, but to be honest I couldn't really taste it, so I would definitely give it a try. You have given a great detailed hub on how to cook it, so this will be great if I do give it a go, thanks for the info, voted up! nell

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Brother, I love your recipe. It sound delicious. Basically, I love duck. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!

      Prasetio

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Simon. I hope you enjoy it. Possibly what you're finding is that the skin is becoming too saturated with the escaping fat and other juices from the meat. I find that keeping the skin as whole as possible (and plenty salt!) makes for the best crispiness. The soup for me is an extra treat from what is essentially a by-product. I have a few individual portions from this batch frozen to enjoy over the holidays. Thanks again - and enjoy! :)

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Audrey. It saddens me sometimes that duck can get a very bad name for being greasy. I've got a good friend who likes every type of meat, fowl or game I've ever heard of with one exception - he absolutely refuses to eat duck. He and his wife both say it is too fatty and greasy. Funny you should mention it: I thought about separating these Hub sections in to different Hubs but decided to go all inclusive instead :) Thanks for your comments and visit and I hope you will give duck another try.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 4 years ago from NJ, USA

      I'll probably be getting Duck for New Year's Eve so I think I'll try your method. One of the downsides of my method is that not all the skin ends up crispy - and that is the best part of the duck! I'll let you know how it goes. I like the soup recipe - some of my favorite flavors in one soup! Luckily no one else in my house likes chestnuts so I'll have to eat all the soup myself!

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Carol. I've been a big fan of duck for a long time but I usually just by breasts or legs individually. Getting the chance to prepare a whole one is always a pleasure. Thanks for stopping by and I hope duck is something you can rediscover soon.

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Simon and thanks. Yes, a knife scoring technique is another option. The reason I use the skewer is that - although it takes longer and is a bit more awkward - I find there's less chance of damaging the breast meat in particular. Like so many techniques and methods in cooking, I suppose it's all down to personal preference :)

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Susan. That's actually a very good point about duck. There is a huge difference in quantity between the amount of meat on a five pound duck and - for example - a five pound chicken. Thanks for that, the visit and the comment. I hope you get the chance to enjoy duck very soon.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

      Wow Gordon--that's a ducky amount of info on preparing duck~ I might just have to try it. I've only had duck once and I did find it a bit greasy but I don't think it was prepared well. You certainly gave a ton of info--and in fact I think you have about 3 hubs at least rolled into one. Great photos as always too!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I love duck but haven't made one in years..However I now have renewed inspiration. Thanks for all the great duck information.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 4 years ago from NJ, USA

      Yumm! I love duck! I find that if I take a sharp knife and score the duck deeply every inch then most of the fat falls away and the meat is very tender. Great hub!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I cooked a duck once and didn't buy a large enough one a I didn't realize that there was less meat on a duck than say a chicken. Needless to say it went fast and we were all left hungry at the end of the meal. I'll have to have another go at it and follow your recipe. Your soup sounds delicious as well.

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