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Slow Roasted Duck

slow roast duck recipe

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

This is another way to roast a duck or goose in the oven, a method I first read about in Clarissa Dickson Wright’s The Game Cookbook. Normally I roast a wild duck over very high heat – up to 500°F. This crisps the skin quickly while leaving the meat rare-to-medium.

But if the duck is very fat, as pintails, mallards, specklebelly geese — even some wigeon, ringnecks and gadwall — are around Northern California, then the skin has trouble crisping up because the fat keeps it moist.

Here’s what to do: Clarissa, who is one of the Two Fat Ladies of TV fame, suggests you start in a low oven and finish on high. This will cook the meat all the way through — so no pink — the fat will keep the meat nice and moist. Remember to only do this with fat birds!

Slow Roasted Duck

This recipe works with any sort of waterfowl. Keep in mind that a mallard, gadwall or pintail will serve two, a goose four and a shoveller, wigeon or teal one.

Serves 4.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

  • 2 very fat wild ducks (see above for species variations)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 4 sprigs sage, rosemary, parsley and/or thyme

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Using a needle or a very sharp knife point, prick the skin of the duck all over — but be sure to not pierce the meat itself, only the skin. This helps the fat render out and will help crisp the skin.
  2. Rub the lemon all over the duck and stick it inside the cavity. Liberally salt the bird; use a little more salt than you think you need. Stuff the cavity with the herbs. Put the duck on an iron frying pan or other ovenproof pan and set in the oven.
  3. Cook regular ducks like mallards and pintails for 45 minutes. Small ducks (shovellers, wigeon, teal, ruddies, etc.) only need 30 minutes. If you are roasting a goose, increase the roasting time to 55 minutes. After the alloted time, take the pan out of the oven and set the ducks on a cutting board to rest. Spoon out any excess fat.
  4. Now turn the heat up to 450°F. When the oven hits this temperature, roast it for 10 more minutes, or until the skin is crisp. The reason you take the bird out of the oven is because a) the resting time helps redistribute the juices in the bird midstream, and b) you are crisping skin without totally overcooking the duck by only returning it to the oven when it is hot.
  5. Remove from oven and let the birds rest. You’ll only need 5 minutes resting time for small birds, 10 minutes for large ducks, and 15 for geese.

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13 responses to “Slow Roasted Duck”

  1. Kindred spirit

    Hi Hank.
    It would be educational (to me anyway) if you could post pictures of a dressed duck that has enough fat to make it suitable for this technique. We’ve shot some ducks this year that had nice fat, but I doubt they are fat enough.

  2. Laneey

    Very Interesting reading your site and comments. I have cooked wild duck for years now, and I roast them, but not short times like you do. I will roast at probably a lower temperature of 150 deg Celcius (around 300F) for 4 hours and even more if it is a large bird – I usually wrap the bird in a non stick baking paper, then foil wrapped around the outer to avoid losing moisture. These are stuffed with a bread stuffing/ onion and mixed herbs, which I assume does take longer to cook right through?? but we like the meat to fall off the bone. You do not experience the tough leg and shoulder meat then. doing it this way I arrive with a crispy/gravy like skin which my husband loves.
    Maybe our birds in NZ are different to yours? your comments would be interesting there.
    Thought you might like to hear my views on the way I cook wild duck.

  3. Arlyn

    Just found your webpage — excellent! such a lucky find while researching hanging game – your article was beautifully thorough and complete. Thank you !

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  5. Flyhole

    Tried both recipes and definitely prefer the slow roast recipe regardless of size or fat content. The meat is well done but still moist and tender.

    Found that when roasted at high heat and not cooked through a lot of blood squirted out everywhere when cut up. Very unappealing.

    Cheers,

    Flyhole

  6. Lou

    @ Laneey

    We do indeed get different ducks/waterfowl (in addition to mallards, as you do). Best by leaps and bounds:specs (specklebelly geese) and sprig (pintail). Mallards are third, then teal, then the smaller Canadas (NOT cacklers).

    We cook them as you do. They are wonderful with the brown pan juices poured over.

  7. scott stewart

    In other videos you suggest skinning Snow geese is that because they are so hard to pluck or its it because their skin/fat is bad. We have our first snow goose sitting plucked in the refrigerator, should I remove its skin before cooking it.

  8. Scott

    I really enjoy your site. It’s very helpful for preparing waterfowl and cooking them. I tried the roasted duck recipe using a Mallard along with the Cumberland Sauce. I have to say it was the best duck I’ve ever had! Thanks again”

  9. Brandon

    Hank,
    I did this recipe last night out of your cook book. We had two fat plucked mallard and it was by far the best duck I can remember eating. We do eat a lot of duck so that’s something.

    I roasted mine in a cast iron pan covered. The skin was a little pale and not crispy. Should I have uncovered the pan for the last 10 minutes at 500 degrees?

  10. Donna Przybylek

    I tried geese few times and decided never again. It was a disaster. I get them frozen, defrost in the fridge and follow instructions attached to the bird. The come out tough, dry and nobody wants to eat it. They are so expensive here, you want to have a masterpiece dinner! Do you have any suggestions?

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