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Whole roast duck help

My local grocery store just started selling whole frozen ducks and I want to try to cook one. I have poked around and haven't seen that many reliable -looking whole roast duck recipes. Does anyone have any tried and true recipes (and not super complicated)? Thanks.

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  1. My favorite fool-proof recipe is five hour duck. The skin is crispy and the meat luscious. Except for the time investment, it's pretty low maintenance. Stuff the inside with some thyme and garlic, salt, pepper and once an hour turn it over and pour out the duck fat.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Val55

      Yes, this is a yummy method but some additional details: prick the duck skin all over (especially under what I will have to call the armpit) so that the fat will render out, set it on a rack on a rimmed backing sheet, and roast it at low heat: 250 for the first 4 hours, turning the duck over every hour and re-pricking and pouring off the rendered fat, as Val55 says. Then for the past hour, turn the heat up to 350, turn anf prick again, and turn the duck over halfway thorough that last hour so each side gets 30 mins at the higher heat.

      1. re: Val55

        And for God's sake, pour off the duck fat into a container where it can saved for other uses. There's a special room in hell for people who discard duck fat.

        1. re: Val55

          I just saw that on "The Best Thing I Ever Made" (Food Network). Ted Allen's choice. The recipe is here:


          1. re: John Francis

            HA! I saw that, too, and was just about to post it!

            That's my favorite food network show. I want to try all the recipes!


            1. re: John Francis

              I saw that recipe a few weeks ago and printed it out. I'm making it tomorrow. The rosemary cherry sauce sounds great.

              1. re: JMF

                Please let us know how it turns out!


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  It actually wasn't that great. Came out dry. And the cherry sauce wasn't too flavorful until I added some red wine.

                  1. re: JMF

                    Oh wow. What a total bummer. It sounded really good. Thank you for taking one for the team and sparing the rest of us the disappointment.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      It's ok, I got two cups of liquid gold, I mean duck fat, to use in cooking. The cherry sauce ended up very good after several additions of ingredients like merlot and balsamic vinegar, and I used it with roast pork tonight and it was great. And the duck carcass is simmering for duck stock, and probably at least a half cup more duck fat will render off, maybe more.

                      I never had a dry duck before. I don't think I pierced the flesh, which would make it dry, but I did have several friends over, and they were making some damn good cocktails. Five hours of cocktails, made by some top mixologists... I'm glad that I had a ton of salumni, cheese, roasted veggies, and crusty bread. So no one was disappointed.

          2. Try on Food network's site under Ina Garten, the barefoot contessa. I believe I printed out a recipe for whole roast duck that was hers. IIRC, she poaches it first, then slow roasts it.

            She is very good, and her recipes are pretty straightforward. Good luck!

            1. I'm a tried and true believer in the 5 hour duck, including last week's Thanksgiving. Blot away as much moisture as you can with paper towels when you start. And poke a hundred little holes with a pointed knife, like you are auditioning for a Hitchcock movie. It's not a lot of work, but requires periodic attention every hour. I stuff the cavity with large apple slices. I heated a huge pan of oyster-chestnut dressing during the last half hour of higher temp cooking, and through a rest period for the duck, and as my rare good luck would have it, both were perfect. Some of the temperatures for 5 hour duck are too high in my opinion, but I do my own thing.

              1. This one works:


                Although I don't do the sour cherry confit (as I don't like sour cherries)

                1. I also recommend the 5-hour duck, or one of the many slow-roasted variations on the web. My only suggestion would be to skip a glaze or any really assertive seasoning, because that will limit you later when you make stock from the carcass.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: TerriL

                    I agree on both points. Duck can stand on its own, and doesn't require glaze or assertive seasoning or fruiting. Duck is good when it tastes like duck.

                  2. This looks complicated, but it's really not. Just requires a hair-dryer! And it is terrific. The recipe is from Marcella Hazan, but I found it online here:

                    1. Google:

                      ken hom peking duck

                      1. I just stick mine in my good old "Ron Popeil Showtime Rotisserie". Your garden-variety 4 to 5-1/2 pound duck is done to perfection in around 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours - juicy, greaseless meat; uber-crisp skin. And what surprises me the most is that while there is fat in the drip pan, it's nothing like regular roasting & doesn't smoke at all. I haven't roasted a duck any other way since my husband gifted me with this rotisserie around 15 years ago.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Bacardi1

                          I was just going to ask about the fat. This sounds like a great thing to try in the near future, since I have a duck farm right in the next town. But I always think it's going to be too much trouble, since my husband doesn't like it...or at least THINKS he doesn't! If I can just set it and forget it (not that I would with duck!) I will be a happy camper.

                          1. re: coll

                            I'm telling you in all honesty - roasting a duck in this particular rotisserie is the best thing that ever came down the pike. And I'm a decades-long duck lover. Grew up on Long Island when the famous "Long Island" ducks & duck farms were in their heyday. Roasting duck in this rotisserie has put whole roasted duck back on our regular menu.

                            And while I agree that I'd never just "set it & forget it" as the Ron Popeil commercials used to go - I've never had so much as a wisp of smoke come from the drip pan, unlike from my regular oven when I used to roast them that way. That rotisserie has been one of the few "gadgets" that hasn't endedup relegated to the basement. I use it regularly.

                            1. re: Bacardi1

                              Me too, it was a gift from a friend who raved about it, but he used it for a lot more than chicken. Me, I've thrilled with the chicken in the 10 years since he gifted me, and now duck I can see will be a new thrill. I am so psyched.

                          2. re: Bacardi1

                            LOL - I make mine on the rotisserie BBQ, learned that trick from a Chinese chef/owner who bought rotisseries for his restaurant that specialized in duck. Best damn duck ever, plus I can add tea leaves and get tea smoked duck.

                          3. I've cooked wild ducks before but I'm now the proud owner of my first ever "store boughten" duck.

                            I'm torn between roasting it whole or making confit of the legs and cooking the breast rare.

                            Since there are only two of us, and duck is not my wife's favorite, I'm thinking I might be better off doing it two ways.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kengk

                              I too poach ducks but it depends on the breed of duck. 'Fatty ducks' need a long slow poach. Remember how you put real fatty bacon in water and simmer it? Same with 'fatty' ducks. Softens the fat so it will render out easier. Then I SLOW roast 180F on a rack over a pan to catch the fat/juice. When the internal temp is about 150F I remove and tent it for half an hour. The I crank up the oven to SCREAMING hot, put the duck back in watch it carefully for a couple of minutes until the skin turns golden. Then I lay the duck on either side until they are golden. Remove, tent, cool to room temp. carve and serve. Juicy duck, crispy skin.

                            2. I prick the skin of the duck to help render the fat out while cooking. Make sure you place it on a roasting rack so it doesn't sit in the fat. Also, rub the duck all over with paprika and it will get a golden crispy skin when cooked.

                              Maple Leaf Farms has a video to boil the duck first to get rid of some of the fat before roasting. Have not tried this method yet. Here is the recipe http://www.mapleleaffarms.com/122?rec...

                              happy cooking.

                              1. I too am a believer of the "Amazing Five Hour Duck" method and have used it atleast 30+ times....with a few modifications. I cut one hour off the cooking time. Doesn't need five, less time to dry out the meat. Another recent adjustment, I now dry out the duck in my frig, a day or two in advance. Leaving the skin that much easier to crisp up. It is also very important to remove the fat from the pan while roasting your duck. Have never sauced it up while cooking. Have never had this recipe fail.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Phoebe

                                  I did the Five-Hour Duck last weekend with the same modifications - dry skin, 1 hour less in the oven. The skin was stellar but I didn't really care for the meat - I prefer duck breast rare, I guess, and the dark meat braised or confited. I only got about a cup of fat from my duck, too, which surprised me - perhaps I just got a lean one.

                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                    I agree that 4 hours is ample. I like crispy skin, so I do the last hour @400, and the first 3hours @275 with turns every 45 minutes.

                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                      The meat is usually a "sacrifice" to great crispy skin with a whole duck. I love duck breast, but you sacrifice all that delicious crispy skin for a properly cooked breast. That's why I like to trade off between the two. A lot has to do with the quality of your duck too. The higher the fat content...the better!

                                  2. Put the thawed to room temperature duck on a rack that allows the duck fat to drip into a large pan below. Rub with kosher salt and pepper. Put some fresh thyme springs and lemon halves in the cavity. Heat oven to 200F....no more. Get internal temp until 150F. Remove, tent crank up oven to screaming hot. Put duck back in. Watch duck like a hawk until skin turns golden brown. Remove tent for 30 minutes. Carve. Enjoy.

                                    1. I find a good approach is to disjoint the bird(s) and either roast or braise the legs or saute the breasts. Remove the rest of the fat from the carcass for rendering, and retain the drippings. A problem with whole North American domestic ducks is the radically different cooking times needed for legs and breasts.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: VitalForce

                                        I'm so glad you addressed the need for different cooking times for the different parts. Duck breast is an absolute delicacy when medium rare.

                                        1. re: phylliskay

                                          I know that rare duck breast is the "in" thing these days, but I still prefer mine well done. I've been roasting whole ducks for decades now & have yet to have any parts of any duck turn out dry - even when thoroughly cooked through. Due to the natural oil content in the meat, it can be roasted to falling-off-the-bone done & still be juicy & tender.

                                      2. Craig Claibourne's Duck a la Orange in the first NYT cookbook is the first duck I ever made and the one I now return to. It's a time-consuming but fun project. Made much easier now with helpful videos on how to do the hard parts like section oranges and make orange rind matchsticks. Serve with a wild rice pilaf. Cut finished whole ducks in half for a spectacular presentation. Makes for a fun, cavemannish, pick-at-the bones and enjoy-the-time-consuming dinner.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                                          I haven't made Claibourne's version of that, but have made it. I seem to recall the recipe I used having a dash of Grand Marnier in the sauce. Delicious!

                                          As for carving, I never traditionally carve duck or goose - always quarter them (or "sixth" them if it's a large goose) using a wonderful pair of heavy-duty poultry shears my husband gifted me with years ago from Williams-Sonoma. Find that I get nicer-size servings, since both duck & goose don't have as much meat per bone as other birds.