A properly roasted duck is tender and juicy on the inside, with a deliciously crispy skin on the outside. The great thing about duck is that it has a decent amount of fat, ensuring that it keeps moist from the inside. You might have to remove some of it but don’t throw it away - duck fat makes the perfect roast potatoes. Our guide to roasting a duck will give you the basic know-how and we’ve provided some ways to liven it up when you feel comfortable that you know what you’re doing.
Method (for 1 large duck, which should feed 4)
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/ gas mark 7.
- Remove the giblets from the body of the cavity and cut off the wing tips, reserving them all to use in a stock or gravy (simply add to a pan with some chopped onion, carrot and celery and fry in a little oil until browned, pop in a bay leaf, cover with water, bring to the boil and then simmer for the length of time it takes to roast the duck).
- Pat the duck with kitchen paper and then, using a cocktail stick, skewer or needle, gently prick the skin around the fatty parts of the breast and where the breast joins the legs. Be sure not to penetrate too far - you want the fat to run but not the precious juices.
- Season with salt and pepper, put the duck into a roasting tin and cook for around 1 1/2 hours. Pierce the flesh of the thickest part of the duck with a skewer to check for doneness - when the juices run clear it is properly cooked.
- Remove the duck from the oven, place on a carving board, cover with foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
- Pour the fatty juices in the roasting tin into a small saucepan and use a little red wine to deglaze the tin, scraping it to remove any browned bits before adding that to the saucepan too. If you have been making a stock with giblets and wing tips, strain this into the pan and boil until you have a thick, sticky gravy.
Different ways with roast duck
From Asian crispy duck with noodles to winter-spiced duck with cinnamon, oranges, nutmeg and port, there are so many ways to serve roast duck. You could shred it and cook it with vegetables and stock, before topping with mashed potato and whacking it under the grill or turn it into a ragù, mix it with pasta and sprinkle it with duck skin pangritata (simply blitz the crispy duck skin with breadcrumbs and olive oil and fry). Salads and stir fries, pies and pasta - there’s nothing roast duck won’t taste delicious in.