A fabulously easy festive duck. Crispy skin rubbed with Christmas inspired spices, accompanied with an Apple Cider Drizzle. Easy to make, easy on the wallet, and a gorgeous centrepiece to add to your festive gathering!
*** This recipe is part of a Christmas Special where I show you how to make 3 mains and 4 side dishes that take 1.5 hrs to prepare and can be largely made ahead. So this Christmas, you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family! 🙂 ***
Duck is not something I cook with on an everyday basis. But every time I make it, I wonder why I don’t. I think because like most people, I subconsciously have duck tagged as fiddly to cook with and expensive to buy.
Not true!! It’s time to get the story straight!!
Firstly, a whole duck costs around the same (on a weight basis) as chicken breast (at least, here in Sydney) – but it’s a whole lot more interesting and tasty!! A 2.3 kg / 4.5 lb duck cost me $20 from my local butcher. It is around $22 – $25 at large supermarkets.
Secondly, duck is alot easier to roast than a whole chicken for two reasons:
1. The flesh has more natural flavour so flavour infusion / thick gravy or strong sauce isn’t as necessary as it is with roast chicken; and
2. Duck is fattier than chicken which means you don’t end up with dry breast meat and burnt wing tips.
The roasting formula is simple. 40 minutes per kg / 20 minutes per pound. Just make sure you pat the skin dry so you end up with crispy skin. A simple sprinkle of spices on the skin, and a very quick sauce for the side.
That’s all there is to it!
I deliberately choose not to stuff it because depending on the size of the cavity and how much you pack it (or not) and the type of stuffing you use, the roasting time can significantly vary. In any case, stuffing made separately is so much more tasty because you get more brown crunchy bits. I dialled the crunchy bits aaaalllll the way up by making individual stuffing cups in a muffin tin lined with pancetta.
So, what do you think?? Will duck make it on the menu at your next festive gathering?! – Nagi
Easy, Stress Free Seven Course Christmas Menu (1.5 hr prep)
You can read about this menu here, including a step by step of the order in which I prepared, baked, reheated and plated up each dish. I made all these dishes (with the exception of the cabbage salad) for a Christmas Party with my friends and these are photos of the actual dishes that I took to the party. I’m sharing this in the hope that it might inspire your Christmas menu!
- Easy Maple Sticky Glazed Ham (15 min prep, 1 – 1 1/2 hrs inactive baking, can be made ahead)
- Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast (5 min prep, then set and forget, reheats well but best slow cooked overnight on the night before serving)
- This Festive Duck with Apple Cider Drizzle (5 min prep, 1 1/2 hr inactive baking, reheats very well)
- Pork Apple Stuffing in Pancetta Cups (20 min prep and worth every second. Reheats extremely well)
- Julia Child’s Potato Dauphinoise Gratin (15 min prep, 45 min baking, reheats very well)
- Red, Green and White Christmas Salad (10 minutes prep)
- Warm Red Cabbage and Spinach with Garlic Herb Butter (10 minutes prep)
- 1 whole duck (around 2 - 2.5 kg) (if frozen, it must be thawed) (Note 1)
- 1 onion (brown, yellow or white), unpeeled and quartered
- 1 cup water
- 1 whole head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp All Spice powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- 10 grinds black pepper
- 1½ tbsp unsalted butter, softened (Note 2)
- 1 cup chicken broth/stock (or duck broth, which is better but more expensive and harder to find)
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (Note 3)
- ½ cup apple juice
- Salt and pepper
- Few handfuls of rocket / arugula leaves
- 1 pomegranate, halved
- Preheat oven to 210C/410C.
- Place the onion, garlic and water in a baking dish, then place a rack on top.
- Rinse the duck under water, including inside the cavity. Use paper towels to pat dry. Or, if you have the foresight, rinse it the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight, uncovered, to dry out.
- Place the Spice Rub in a small bowl and mix to combine.
- Slather the Spice Rub all over the skin of the duck (not inside). Use most of it on the top and sides.
- Place duck on the rack and put in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn down the oven to 180C/350F. The total roasting time (including the initial 20 minutes) should be 40 minutes per 1 kg / 20 minutes per 1 lb of duck.
- To check if it is done, insert a skewer into the part where the leg meets the breast. If the juice runs clear, it is ready.
- Remove duck from the oven. Remove duck from the baking tray, loosely cover with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Place on a bed of rocket/arugula lettuce. Scatter with pomegranate seeds (Note 4) and serve with the Apple Cider Drizzle on the side.
- Pour all the fat, juice, onion and garlic in the baking tray through a sieve placed over a bowl. Use a spoon or potato masher to mush the onion and garlic so you can extract maximum flavour.
- If there is an excessive amount of fat floating on top of the juices, try to spoon it off (save it for roasting potatoes or vegetables, that stuff is gold!).
- Pour ¼ cup of the juices into a small saucepan. Add apple cider vinegar, apple juice, chicken broth and place over medium heat. Bring to simmer and let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until it reduces by about ¼, then remove from the stove.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Also, adjust tartness and sweetness to your taste with more apple cider vinegar or white sugar.
- Serve on the side of the duck.
2. You can substitute with salted butter, or margarine. If using salted butter or margarine, reduce the salt in the spice rub to about ¾ tbsp.
3. Apple cider vinegar can be found in the vinegar and oil section of supermarkets. It is not more expensive than other vinegars. It is less sharp than normal white vinegar.
4. An easy way to extract pomegranate seeds is to hold a pomegranate with the cut side against your fingers (splayed), then smack the pomegranate with a wooden spoon over the duck. The seeds with pop out easily.
5. Duck reheats extremely well, maintaining is juiciness and the skin crisps up well too. To reheat a whole duck, bring it to room temperature then bake in a 180C/350F oven for 20 minutes.
6. This recipe serves 10 as part of multi course meal.
The nutrition analysis assumes this serves 10 and does not take into account that most of the fat renders out so you don’t actually consume it (the fat accounts for most of the calories). If this is part of a large multi course meal, it will feed around 15 people because duck is so rich, you do not need much.