Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 26, 2007 04:11 PM

First time cooking duck -- advice appreciated!

A work associate of my husband's gave us two ducks from his duck farm as a gift. We're having two friends over tomorrow for dinner and we'd like to cook the ducks for dinner.

In perusing recipes online today, however, I notice that all the recipes seem to be for bigger ducks (5 pounds or over). The ducks we have are each about 3 lbs. Can I just use one of those recipes and cook for less time? Or can anyone recommend a recipe for smaller ducks?

ANY suggestions appreciated!



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I am sure you will get alot of good advice so I will just give you one of my fool-proof suggestions that is a little different. I put tasty aromatics inside the duck (my leaning is Asian), rub with salt & pepper, prick all over, and then steam (I used a spaghetti pot with the insert). Till tender. Then brush with glaze of your choice and finish at high oven heat or broiler to crisp skin. I use kitchen scissors to dissect. Also you may want to post the type of duck as some are fattier or gamier than others.

    4 Replies
    1. re: torty

      Thanks for this advice. I have no idea what type of duck it is; there's no indication on the label. My husband invited three others for dinner and looking at the ducks this morning, I'm thinking that there's no way they'll feed five people...they look very small and scrawny!

      I'm going to try that steaming idea. I'm worried about over-cooking!

      1. re: inkygirl

        Two small ducks for 5 people is probably going to be scanty for food; make sure you have lots of hearty sides! The five hour roast duck recipe is a sure fire winner; I'd probably only do it for 4 hours though:

      2. re: torty

        What do you mean by "tasty aromatics", by the way? Sorry to sound so ignorant, but I'm not an experienced cook. Thanks again!

        1. re: inkygirl

          That would mean onions, garlic, lemons, apples, things of that nature.
          Sage, rosemary, things that taste and smell good. You get the idea I think.


      3. Well, I can't much help you with your size dilema but this is the recipe I use for roast duck and it's excellent. The sauce should help you if you accidentally over cook it and if that fails, you can always empty the bottle of port into your glasses.

        A probe thermometer would come in quite handy.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Davwud

          :-D I love your idea of using the leftover port for drinking in case of overcooking. :-D

        2. I roasted two ducks for dinner Christmas Eve - each was about 3.5 lbs. I largely followed the recipe in the Joy of Cooking for crisp-skinned roasted duck. The night before, I rubbed the ducks with 3/4 tsp of salt per pound of duck (a la Zuni Cafe's roasted chicken), and stuffed the cavity with two clementines I'd pierced several times with a small knife. The next day, I roasted for about 2.5 hours at 250 degrees (make sure to pierce the duck's skin all over before roasting, and periodically throughout roasting - this allows the fat to drain out and makes for a better duck), then for another hour or so (until done) at 350 degrees. I also turn the duck every once in awhile so that it's crispy and brown all over.

          You'll probably want to adjust times for the smaller ducks. As long as you keep an eye on it, it'll be fine.

          1 Reply
          1. Thank you THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! Your suggestions are MUCH appreciated.

            1 Reply
            1. Duck follow-up: My husband took over duck cooking duties in the morning and unfortunately didn't have the benefit of the wisdom posted here (as much as I love my husband, we don't cook well together, so I just kept out of the kitchen), so the ducks ended up being pretty tough, with a thick layer of fat that was difficult to cut through. I also found out that the ducks were Rouen (sp?) ducks -- he had forgotten to tell me, which is why I hadn't posted that info here, sorry.

              Anyway, I'm determined to successfully cook duck despite this negative experience! And I definitely plan to use the advice given in this thread. Thanks again for all your help!

              2 Replies
              1. re: inkygirl

                My first duck adventure was with the above posted recipe and it was a huge success. I suggest you strongly consider it.


                1. re: inkygirl

                  Inkygirl, the next time you attempt duck my advise would be to not cook it whole. To me the best way to work with duck is to remove the breast. These are great when the fat is scored and they are pan roasted and served medium rare. Start fat side down and render off most of the fat then flip and toss in the oven to finish. Just don't over cook. This meat is best on the pink side. Slice and serve for an elegant dinner. For the rest of the duck I like to break it down and remove the legs, thighs and wings. These are salted and seasoned for confit. The rest of the carcass is broken down and all the fat and skin removed for further rendering. Duck fat is needed for the confit and is a good thing to keep on hand. What's left of the carcass will make for good stock. Oh and when rendering the fat and skin, you will not only be rewarded with duck fat but duck cracklins. If you are lucky enough to find the organs, the liver is wonderful and I put the gizzard and heart in my confit. The texture of gizzards after a low slow confit is wonderful. In this manner you get multiple meals and utilize each part to it's best potential.