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Roast Duck with Orange, Soy and Ginger

by . Featured in AT MY TABLE
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Introduction

In How to Eat, I had a method for cooking roast duck that involved poaching them on the stove, letting them cool and then roasting them in a hot oven. It worked, giving tender meat and fantastically crisp skin, but I am far happier with this method, which dispenses with any wrangling of ducks in boiling water. I still take a two-stage approach, but it’s all low-effort, if not no-effort, and the result is meltingly soft meat and superb quackling. You need add nothing to the duck as it cooks, as both meat and sauce - an aromatic broth of a gravy - provide all the flavour that’s required.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

In How to Eat, I had a method for cooking roast duck that involved poaching them on the stove, letting them cool and then roasting them in a hot oven. It worked, giving tender meat and fantastically crisp skin, but I am far happier with this method, which dispenses with any wrangling of ducks in boiling water. I still take a two-stage approach, but it’s all low-effort, if not no-effort, and the result is meltingly soft meat and superb quackling. You need add nothing to the duck as it cooks, as both meat and sauce - an aromatic broth of a gravy - provide all the flavour that’s required.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Roast Duck
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Serves: 4-6

Metric Cups
  • 2 x 2kg (or 1.8kg without giblets) ducks
  • 2 medium smooth-skinned oranges (skin only, finely pared with a vegetable peeler)
  • 50 grams fresh root ginger (cut into coins)
  • 4 star anise
  • 500 millilitres cold water
  • 5 x 15ml tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons honey
  • 2 x 4½ lb (or 4lb without giblets) ducks
  • 2 medium smooth-skinned oranges (skin only, finely pared with a vegetable peeler)
  • 2 x 1½ inch pieces of fresh gingerroot (cut into coins)
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Method

  1. Take the ducks out of the fridge. Remove and discard the giblets, if the ducks have come with them (or for a cook's treat, fry the liver in butter and deglaze with brandy), then cut off and discard the parson's nose with a pair of scissors and remove any excess fat around the cavity. Leave the ducks to come to room temperature. Lightly prick the skin all over with a cocktail stick.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F. Once it's hot, pour water from a freshly boiled kettle into a deep roasting tin, to come about 1cm up the sides, and place a rack on top. Sit the ducks on it, breast-side up, and cook in the oven for 1½ hours. Then take the tin carefully out of the oven and, again, prick the ducks assiduously: you will see the fat bubbling and running out. Using oven gloves for ease, remove the ducks - pouring any liquid collected in the cavities into the tin below - to a couple of baking sheets, or similar, and leave to cool before transferring to the fridge (within 2 hours), where they can stay, preferably uncovered, for a day or two. Once it's cooled down a little, carefully pour the liquid from the roasting tin into a large, heatproof jug and leave to cool, then refrigerate. When the fat's cold and solidified, remove (discarding the water underneath) and store in the fridge to roast with at a later date.
  3. About 2 hours before you want to roast your ducks, take them out of the fridge and sit them breast-side up, on top of a wire rack sitting over a deep roasting tin, to come to room temperature; they really mustn't have any chill about them. As soon as the ducks are out of the fridge, drop the finely pared orange peel into a small saucepan. Add the ginger, star anise and cold water and bring to the boil. Let it boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and leave to steep for 2-3 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425°F. Lightly price the duck skin all over with a cocktail stick, yet again, and if you're lucky you'll see a few fatty blisters, bubble-wrap style, probably on the underside: if you do, press on them to push out and remove little dots of fat; this is very satisfying work. I know it doesn't sound attractive in the context of cooking, but I have to say it: it is just like squeezing spots.
  5. Transfer the ducks to the hot oven and roast for 50-60 minutes, turning the tin around halfway through, until the skin is crisp and bronzed. You will get some stippled dark brown patches - that's fine. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Before you carve, finish the sauce. Remove and discard the orange peel, ginger and star anise. Add the soy sauce, put the pan back on the heat and bring to the boil, then switch off the heat and stir in the honey to dissolve it. Pour into a warmed gravy boat or jug.
  7. Carve the breast thinly and remove the meat from the legs or leave them whole as wished, then arrange on a warmed plate, along with any crisp skin that's left on the bird. Spoon a little of the orange, soy and ginger sauce just over the meat. Serve absolutely immediately.
  1. Take the ducks out of the fridge. Remove and discard the giblets, if the ducks have come with them (or for a cook's treat, fry the liver in butter and deglaze with brandy), then cut off and discard the parson's nose with a pair of scissors and remove any excess fat around the cavity. Leave the ducks to come to room temperature. Lightly prick the skin all over with a cocktail stick.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F. Once it's hot, pour water from a freshly boiled kettle into a deep roasting tin, to come about 1cm up the sides, and place a rack on top. Sit the ducks on it, breast-side up, and cook in the oven for 1½ hours. Then take the tin carefully out of the oven and, again, prick the ducks assiduously: you will see the fat bubbling and running out. Using oven gloves for ease, remove the ducks - pouring any liquid collected in the cavities into the tin below - to a couple of baking sheets, or similar, and leave to cool before transferring to the fridge (within 2 hours), where they can stay, preferably uncovered, for a day or two. Once it's cooled down a little, carefully pour the liquid from the roasting tin into a large, heatproof jug and leave to cool, then refrigerate. When the fat's cold and solidified, remove (discarding the water underneath) and store in the fridge to roast with at a later date.
  3. About 2 hours before you want to roast your ducks, take them out of the fridge and sit them breast-side up, on top of a wire rack sitting over a deep roasting tin, to come to room temperature; they really mustn't have any chill about them. As soon as the ducks are out of the fridge, drop the finely pared orange peel into a small saucepan. Add the ginger, star anise and cold water and bring to the boil. Let it boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and leave to steep for 2-3 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/425°F. Lightly price the duck skin all over with a cocktail stick, yet again, and if you're lucky you'll see a few fatty blisters, bubble-wrap style, probably on the underside: if you do, press on them to push out and remove little dots of fat; this is very satisfying work. I know it doesn't sound attractive in the context of cooking, but I have to say it: it is just like squeezing spots.
  5. Transfer the ducks to the hot oven and roast for 50-60 minutes, turning the tin around halfway through, until the skin is crisp and bronzed. You will get some stippled dark brown patches - that's fine. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Before you carve, finish the sauce. Remove and discard the orange peel, ginger and star anise. Add the soy sauce, put the pan back on the heat and bring to the boil, then switch off the heat and stir in the honey to dissolve it. Pour into a warmed gravy boat or jug.
  7. Carve the breast thinly and remove the meat from the legs or leave them whole as wished, then arrange on a warmed plate, along with any crisp skin that's left on the bird. Spoon a little of the orange, soy and ginger sauce just over the meat. Serve absolutely immediately.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
Duck can be steam roasted up to 2 days ahead of final roasting. Make sure that it is refrigerated within 2 hours of steam roasting. Refrigerate leftover roasted duck and sauce, within 2 hours of cooking, in separate airtight containers for up to 1 day. Reheat until piping hot. Duck fat should be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

FREEZE:
Duck fat can be frozen for up to 3 months.

MAKE AHEAD / STORE:
Duck can be steam roasted up to 2 days ahead of final roasting. Make sure that it is refrigerated within 2 hours of steam roasting. Refrigerate leftover roasted duck and sauce, within 2 hours of cooking, in separate airtight containers for up to 1 day. Reheat until piping hot. Duck fat should be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

FREEZE:
Duck fat can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Tell us what you think

What 7 Others have said

  • I used this recipe for my home grown rabbits. I mimicked the skin with organic bacon.. Absolutely amazing! I hope it is ok Nigella?

    Posted by LRfood on 14th December 2019
  • I was going to do this for New Year but here it is late February! I’m very happy the duck is in the oven for it’s first cook. Thank you, very much, for the “cook's tip” regarding a quick sauté on the liver and deglaze with Brandy. Heavenly with a plain toast and glass of Brandy! I have a hunch if I had to choose a “last meal” this would be it!

    Posted by wildbill on 21st February 2019
  • Made this for Xmas. Duck was lovely both moist meat and crisp skin however sauce was not thick enough, which was strange and didn’t really work? Did I put too much wateror should I have reduced it further? Everything else was perfect!

    Posted by JFSfood on 26th December 2018
  • Tried this recipe today and it is the first time the duck turned out perfectly. Have tried many other methods, however this one is fool-proof and so easy. And the sauce? Outstanding!! I have a feeling the sauce would go well with Maui, or Korean style beef ribs too. Thank you Nigella!

    Posted by cookghs on 23rd December 2018
  • We did the duck recipe today from 'At my Table' absolutely superb.

    Posted by eam16 on 5th January 2018
  • I tried this recipe yesterday and it worked absolutely perfectly. I was bit hesitant because it seemed a rather unusual method but it was the best duck I've eaten for a long time - tender but with amazingly crispy skin and a sauce full of flavour. Thank you SO much, Nigella xx

    Posted by Goldilocks29 on 29th December 2017
  • My extended family meet up just before Xmas as we are all scattered around Australia on Christmas Day. So I thank you for this recipe, it was a show stopper as everyone said they had never eaten duck which was so moist. The sauce was a hit also, I am already getting requests for this again next Christmas. I did make sure that we all raised a glass to Nigella as thanks for the recipe.

    Posted by Dragonmum on 22nd December 2017
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