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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.