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Why not roast some duck?

Roasted chicken is a very very popular dish in US. I made one last night for dinner. Why isn't roasted duck popular in US? before I try it this weekend with just salt and pepper, I'd like to ask. Can I roast the duck the same way I do with chicken? I roasted chicken at 425 degree on a bed of root vegetables in a 12 inch Lodge cast iron skillet. I assume roasted duck done in a same fashion will be tasty as well? and I assume roasted root vegetable cooked in duck fat must be ultra delicious?

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  1. Duck is awesome! and duck fat is awesome!

    Yes, you can roast a duck just like a chicken and it will be marvelous.

    I believe the reason duck is not as popular as chicken in the US is that it is pricier and harder to acquire.

    Also, I have many aquaintances that dislike duck due to it being all "dark meat". A properly cooked duck will not be greasy, but it will have delicious crispy skin and anything cooked in the fat will be AMAZING!

    I would advise, if you get a commercially raised duck, to not use the orange sauce that comes tucked inside, as it is frequently VERY sweet and will mask the natural scumptious flavor of your duck.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DragonDrumsticks

      How about the cooking time? keep it the same too? Duck I assume has less meat than chicken so cook it a bit less even though it is the same weight?

      Yeah, i wouldn't use those oranage sauce...
      thanks for the recommendation.

      1. re: Monica

        I normally cook mine for the same amount of time I would for a similarly sized chicken. Just keep an eye on it. Duck is fatty enough even if you accidentally get it a bit more done than you planned, it will not be dry.

    2. I do not consider duck as simple as chicken, not by a long shot. No "set it and forget it". It will throw off a lot of fat so has to be watched carefully. Should be raised up on a rack or screen and monitored on a regular basis.

      Also for the skin to come out right, you have to brown it well before even putting it in the oven. I think these are more the reasons that you don't see it as often in home cooking, rather than price. Duck meat is more like beef and the price is cheaper than that. It's a little tricky, not impossible, but do a little research before attempting is my advice. some of the best duck I've tasted was cooked low and slow for 5 or 6 hours, not saying you can't do otherwise but if you want the full experience, there is a knack to it.

      16 Replies
      1. re: coll


        this seems like a good recipe and instruction but yeah, now I know why people don't really roast duck...that's a lot of work...

        1. re: coll

          I second what coll said - duck is definitely NOT as easy as chicken. Also, I personally don't care to roast ducks whole, because I like the breast meat cooked no more than medium rare. The legs and thighs are great for roasting or braising but to me, fully cooked duck breast is a waste.

          1. re: biondanonima

            which makes me wonder why any typical supermarket sells a whole duck but not parts of ducks. Love seared duck breast..so easy to make and so good.

            1. re: Monica

              I know, I have wondered that myself. It's not difficult to bone and break them down oneself, though - no more so than your average chicken.

              1. re: Monica

                I suspect it's because they don't sell a lot of them. I never see them other than frozen in the supermarkets either. It's probably easier for them to just stock the whole birds and leave it at that.

                1. re: Monica

                  Some do, but when I wanted to cook a duck breast a couple of weeks ago, one breast was the same price as a whole duck!

                  1. re: Monica

                    A lot of supermarkets (and most of the ones where I live in NJ) sell duck breasts and leg quarters separately (breast approx 8.99/lb, legs approx 3.49/ lb).

                    1. re: The Professor

                      which one? i've never seen them. I am in bergen county.

                      1. re: Monica

                        I see them all the time in both StopNShop and ShopRite. I bought a few leg quarters yesterday at ShopRite to make confit. 3.49/lb

                    2. re: Monica

                      hit an Asian market, often you can find ducks whole or parted.

                      I think I too would use a rack, reserve part of the rendered fat for later (you will find great uses - plenty of threads on that) and make a pan gravy for the root vegetables roasted in a different pan as they might get too mushy and fatty in the direct drippings (but don't be afraid to add a few spoonfuls along the way).

                  2. re: coll

                    Try this recipe:


                    This is no more work than the Zuni chicken.

                    1. re: coll

                      I agree. If it was that easy, believe me, I'd do it once a week!! But it can really smoke up the kitchen if you're not careful. And carving it is a bit harder too.

                      1. re: wincountrygirl

                        The recipe I linked to above is super easy.

                      2. re: coll

                        I've only had duck once and it did not taste good to me at all. It was domestic cooked with apricots and ?? I know nothing about the skill level of the cook so maybe the cooking was the problem? It had a very distinct taste that was not- to me- at all good.

                      3. I slash the skin to allow the fat to escape. definitely use a roasting rack so it is not swimming in its own fat.
                        I also scald the duck briefly (and then air dry it) to get the skin a little crispier. A quick honey/soy/5 spice/sesame oil/ginger/garlic marinade, roasted a little lower and slower (to prevent scalding)....Good stuff.

                        1. Google "5 hour duck". They are slightly more work than chicken, to render out the fat, but little efforts spread over more time, and worth it. Later, you have duck fat and maybe leftover meat for duck hash. Also, I agree with the comment above about skipping the cloyingly sweet packet of orange sauce. Start saving and freezing the livers for a batch of duck liver pate.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Veggo

                            For duck livers, wouldn't it be good seared with some balsamic glaze reduction?

                            1. re: Monica

                              Probably, I have never tried. Numerous friends say duck liver pate is the best thing that ever came out of my kitchens.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                any recipe you follow? duck liver pate is one of favorite foods in the world.

                                1. re: Monica

                                  There are so many varied recipes, I do a mix and match along these lines:
                                  Sautee one diced onion until translucent, add and sautee trimmed duck livers lightly.
                                  Combine with a mixture of warm heavy cream with a good shot of cognac, coarse black pepper, and kosher salt, blend the mixture, then strain. You may catch next to nothing in the strainer. Be careful with liver/liquid ratios so it will set up without being too soupy. I made one batch with 2 pounds of luck livers, and ended up with 5 -8 oz. crocks of pate.
                                  Fill small crocks with the mixture, place crocks in a walled pan with 1 inch of water, bake at 250 for 45 minutes. Remove crocks, let cool, then refrigerate. Later I float a thin layer of duck fat on the surface of the crocks I will freeze - it freezes well.
                                  Serve with a good cracker, crispbread, or melba toast, and cornishons. Goes well with soft ripened cheeses, also.

                          2. "Why isn't roasted duck popular in US?"

                            In addition to what others have said (e.g., it's a darker meat, more fat means more attention needed, etc.), I suspect duck is less common than chicken because America's poultry producers have not industrialized duck production to the same extent as chicken production.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: LorenzoGA

                              And they grow so quickly, faster than any fowl. The 16 cute yellow ducklings in my lake were amusing when they cruised single file following mama last spring, but now they are all grown up and they shit everywhere. Muscovy, but I won't eat them, I just wish they would get a life elsewhere.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                I just wish they would get a life elsewhere....they can have one in my belly.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  I think we can also add to the list of reasons why duck is not as popular as chicken in America: Many of us have an aversion to eating animals we perceive as cute or amusing or that we are accustomed to seeing enjoying themselves out in the park, and ducks are just that.

                                    1. re: Monica

                                      Donald D. is an easily duped moron, so to a grifter what is possibly cuter?

                                    2. re: LorenzoGA

                                      Cute? Is that why there are no duckling Peeps at Easter?: '-)

                                2. Somewhere on an old HC thread, it was suggested to loosen all of the duck skin before putting it in the oven, to allow the subcutaneous fat to drain away more thoroughly. However, the explanation was unclear. It seems to me that you'd either have to make some strategic skin cuts, or roast the duck vertically, which would not be easy in a typical home oven, given that ducks are proportionally longer than chickens. The top of the duck would be very close to the cieling of the oven. Most people just score the skin thoroughly all over, for better crisping.

                                  The Frugal Gourmet recommended steaming the duck first, then roasting it over sauerkraut. The steaming is supposed to get out most of the fat.

                                  1. IMO, you can't roast a duck like a chicken and expect it to come out well. Putting it in a pan on top of a bed of root vegetable would be one of the last ways I would cook it.

                                    Duck can take on long cooking better than chicken due to its higher fat content, but its not easy to do well.

                                    I like to either break the duck down into quarters or debone it and cook separate halves.

                                    I like to make confit with the legs or use them for a ragu. Sear the breast slowly at first to render the fat and avoid cooking the meat too much or you can do a higher sear to crisp the skin and finish in the oven. I would say that I've never treated a duck as though it was just the same as a chicken.

                                    As to why Americans don't eat much duck, you could ask the same about (peter) rabbit, (bambi) deer or (billy) goat all of which I love. Most American insist on eating the same 4 proteins: beef, chicken, maybe pork and rarely lamb.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                      That's funny- I'm very fond of Peter and Bambi. As a child, my family raised goats- for the milk, I thought. My job was bottle feeding baby goats- not a chore but a favorite activity. I just found out from my sister we were eating the little kids! No wonder the steak at my house tasted different than anywhere else. So apparently I have eaten Little Billy, too.

                                    2. A recipe I've had good success with, is Alton Brown's:


                                      It seems rather complicated but once you've done it a couple of times it's quite easy.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: sordftr

                                        Oh no, I have to use frozen thawed duck? What if I can only get fresh! Ha just kidding......

                                        1. re: sordftr

                                          Where the blazes does Alton Brown shop! Duck with a pop-up thermometer? sheesh!

                                        2. Unless you render some of the fat before roasting any veggies under the duck could be swimming in a pool of fat... And turn out more soggy greasy than delicious

                                          15 Replies
                                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                                            I've never understood roasting vegetables even under a chicken. To me they're inedibly overcooked. And, yes, the fat soaked ones from a duck would be really awful IMO.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              I cut the root vegetable in large chunks..I know they are 'overcooked' and the texture of root vegetables become sort of like mashed potato inside but with the flavor of chicken fat and salt that dripped while cooking chicken, is to die for..it's really delicious!

                                              1. re: Monica

                                                I agree. Carrots barely cook through in the time to bake a chicken, and onions, red potatoes, beets, and other root veggies come out perfectly. Brussels sprouts can be added half way. A little olive oil and rosemary on the potatoes provides the first aroma escaping from the oven.

                                                1. re: Monica

                                                  As I mentioned elsewhere, some people just like mushy vegetables. I don't.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    i don't like mushy stuff in general but this is some good stuff.

                                                    1. re: Monica

                                                      For you, and that's great. Not for me.

                                                      1. re: Monica

                                                        There is a huge difference in the amount of fat from a duck as compared to a chicken. The chicken will have a moderate amount of fat pooled in the veg. The duck will likely have the veg completely soaked in duck fat. While I love veg cooked with dick fat, I'm not looking to create onion/carrot/potato confit. I supposes you could drain it out and the crisp them on the stovetop. Otherwise like c oliver says, they will be complete mush.

                                                        1. re: Bkeats

                                                          You understood what i was trying to say.....!
                                                          (Ps your typo above had me laughing out loud!!)

                                                          1. re: Bkeats

                                                            That is the best typo EVER. I wonder if my local market has that...

                                                            1. re: PandaCat


                                                              new thread: "where can I source d**k fat in my town?"

                                                              c'mon play nice, on a QWERTYOP the I is right there by the U

                                                            2. re: Bkeats

                                                              oops. that's what happens when I touch type but don't read it. But its pretty funny.

                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                        I wait until the bird is half done, then throw the veggies on the roasting rack under the bird. Not overdone, and not swimming in fat.

                                                        1. re: seattle_lee

                                                          And I do mine in a CI skillet and they come out nice and firm and a little crispy. The world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            Sure. But if you were looking for some of the duck juices to cook onto the veggies, but didn't want the downsides that you mention above, that's a way to get it.

                                                            1. re: seattle_lee

                                                              Yep, that's sure one way. I can also get the duck fat out of the fridge and cook with that :)

                                                    2. Sure! Why not? One of my favorite ways to roast duck is with black olives. I've also bastardized coq au vin by substituting a duck for the chicken. C'est magnifique! And the best place to buy quality duck at the lowest price is in a Chinese/Pan Asian market.

                                                      Oh! And when I roast duck I slice "shark's gills" on each side of the breast, being vvery careful not to cut into the flesh, JUST the fat! The problem with the traditional method of pricking all over with a cooking fork or a skewer is that as soon as the fat begins to render, it seals up those holes!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        I've been looking for my roast duck with olives recipe and haven't found it yete, but surprise! When I opened my very ancient (and fragiley decrepit) recipe box, what was right there staring me from theop of the pile? My "caneton au vin" recipe! It's oooooollllllldddd... So old it's typed on my 1950s vintage Olivetti Leterra 22 typewriter, which fortunately had a fresh riboon in it so I could read it! I've copied it onto cyber paper so I can cut and paste, so while I was at it, I also cleared up the directions. And I'm very happy to find, via a short tour of wines.com, that Cotes du Rhone are not ridiculously expensive for a party pot of yummy duck. Drink the same wine with the meal you cook the duck with... *IF* anyone tries the recipe! And if you don't know how and don't want to know how to flute a mushroom, no big deal. They're optional. And they're also VERY mid-20th Century haute cuisine! Yup! Showing my age! '-)

                                                        Here's the recipe:

                                                        CANETON AU VIN

                                                        2 medium ducklings
                                                        1 1/2ozs Scotch whiskey
                                                        1 bottle Cotes du Rhone (rouge)
                                                        18 pearl onions
                                                        24 button mushrooms (OPTIONAL: plus 8 fluted mushrooms)
                                                        1/4 cup diced salt pork (lardons)
                                                        2 Tbsp sea salt to taste
                                                        fresh thyme to taste
                                                        fresh ground black pepper
                                                        2 cloves garlic
                                                        2 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus a few whole parsley stalks/stems

                                                        Make sure all pin feathers and innards are removed from the ducklings.  Cut off wings at “elbow.” Slash the breasts of the ducks diagonally three times across each breast side being careful not to go all of the way through the fat, but do go through the skin.  Rub ducklings all over with sea salt and olive oil.  Arrange on rack in roaster pan that has a lid that will cover ducklings eventually. 

                                                        Preheat oven to 400F and roast ducklings uncovered for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cover and reduce heat to 325F and continue roasting until thermometer inserted in inner thighs of ducklings indicates 180F, being careful not to touch the bone with thermometer tip.  Remove ducklings from oven and cool uncovered.  (Drain and reserve duck fat)
                                                        When ducklings are cool enough to handle comfortably, quarter them, then with a small very sharp boning knife remove all accessible bones, leaving only interior wing and leg bones. 
                                                        Dice salt pork and place in pan of cold water, bring to simmer, change water and simmer again, this time for three minutes.  Drain well. 
                                                        Add 2 or 3 Tbsp of rendered duck fat to a large heavy Dutch oven and brown boiled salt pork (lardons), add pearl onions, shaking pan to brown them on as many surfaces as possible.  Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and ducklings.  Turn ducklings regularly to reheat if they have cooled too much.  When ducklings are hot, flambe them with the Scotch whiskey.  Pour wine over ducklings and add tomato paste to pan, 3 sprigs of parsley (to be removed later) and thyme.  Cover and simmer gently until onions are nearly tender. 
                                                        Sauté mushrooms in duck fat using a separate pan.  (OPTIONAL: flute, then sauté 8 additional mushroom caps and reserve for presentation)  Remove parsley sprigs from sauce , then add the original 24 sautéed mushrooms to the sauce with 3 Tbsp chopped parsley.  Correct salt as needed, and add pepper now.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve in the pan you used for cooking if it will make a good table presentation or transfer to appropriate platter or oval cocotte that allows duckling quarters to be arranged in a single layer.  Top each duckling quarter with a fluted mushroom.  Scatter parsley lightly over surface and present at table. 
                                                        Serve with buttered egg noodles, rice, or any sort of small buttered pasta such as orzo or Israeli couscous.  Serves 8
                                                        ***Can be prepared to this point a day ahead.

                                                        And just for the record, traditionally the wing portions removed prior to cooking and the bones and trimmings were used to make duck stock, which in turn may have been used to make duck soup! The French throw nothing away! It's a good thing...

                                                      2. In my experience, duck is trickier to do than chicken if you want it to come out non-greasy and with that gorgeous crispy skin that's one of the main points of roast duck.

                                                        The main difference between duck and chicken is that duck has a thick layer of fat under the skin (to keep it warm in the water). For crispy skinned, non greasy duck you need to render out the fat while it cooks, otherwise it can be kind of nasty. The two biggest issues are if you don't render out the fat well enough (leaving your dinner coated in a thick layer of rapidly congealing grease), or splattering of the fat as it roasts (leaving you with a kitchen full of smoke).

                                                        The way I do it is to first steam it to start the fat rendering, and then to switch to roasting, on a rack so it doesn't end up swimming in fat.

                                                        I wouldn't do veggies under the duck, because of the amount of grease that's saved. Plus, I love duck fat at a cooking ingredient, so I carefully save it for later use.

                                                        What I do with duck if I don't want to go through the effort of roasting is to break it apart. I peel of the skin and fat, and save for later rendering (which will give me duck fat and crispy skin bits as a garnish), stew the hindquarters, maybe with tomatoes and black olive), and use the breasts seared, maybe on a salad of bitter greens. Maybe not the usual duck three ways, but it it highlights the best of each part of the duck.

                                                        1. I roasted a duck once years ago when I lived near a specialty poultry market. All I remember is that there was a lot of fat and not that much meat. I've never thought to do it again. It's not that I dislike duck. I had canard à l'orange awhile back in a restaurant and it was wonderful.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                            My favorite way to have duck is at a restaurant! Even then, I am often disappointed. Searching for the holy grail isn't easy.

                                                            At home, I have had my biggest successes with just the breast, when I am in the mood.

                                                            1. re: coll

                                                              Try the Pipa duck at Hakkasan. It's really superb.

                                                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                If I lived near one, I would!

                                                                Luckily I live in Long Island Duck country, and there are enough chefs around here that know what to do with it. For that I am thankful. But if I ever get into NYC and am looking for Asian, I know where I'm going now.

                                                          2. I used to roast duck frequently - it's what Mrs. O and I used to have every Christmas. One year we were having company so we bought three. "Three ducks?" asked the checkout girl. "Yes," I said. "Huey, Dewey and Louie." I thought she was gonna cry …

                                                            All I did was defrost, season, prick all over and roast at whatever temperature James Beard recommends, and of course check for fat overflow periodically. My best shot, though, was when I cooked two over indirect heat in my Weber grill on the front porch. It was a very cold day so I didn't hover over it, just went out to check and add charcoal now and then. What I did not think to do was to put any newspaper down on the concrete floor. So unless it's been resurfaced, I'll bet there's still a grease ring on the porch floor at 2804 Brightwood, Nashville. But the ducks were stunningly good.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                              Will, if the fat had not dripped out the vent in the bottom, you would have had cremated ducks! I have had some major flame ups during the first few hours of pig roasts, lots of fat early on.

                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                'grease ring" - a price well spent. nothing of value was lost.

                                                              2. I did one on the barbecue once, it was really good. IIRC, I used this recipe as a guideline, changing the positions of the duck seemed to be a key in its success: