A whole roast duck is a wonderful treat and makes a perfect choice for a special occasion meal.
This recipe uses the slow-roasting method to yield moist, tender duck meat with crisp, golden skin. It’s served with a simple Orange and Rosemary Sauce that’s not only delicious with duck, it works with other main dishes like chicken, pork or even salmon.
If you’re planning to serve duck as an alternative to roast turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might want to try our Spiced Pomegranate Sauce. Lightly spiced with allspice, cinnamon and ginger, it complements the duck perfectly and can be served with Cornish hens, chicken or pork as well.
Shopping For A Whole Duck: How Much To Buy
Generally weighing 5-1/2 to 6 pounds, Pekin, or Long Island duck is likely the most common variety you’ll find in your local market.It’s important to note that this weight includes the giblets, necks, liver and heart. When you factor in how much fat is rendered from the skin during the cooking process, you’ll find that a duck this size yields only about 4 servings.
If you’d like to serve a larger group, you could plan on using a turkey sized roasting pan and setting two ducks on the rack end to end. Essentially the instructions would remain the same, you’d just want to double the sauce recipes to accommodate the extra meat.
The Slow-Roasted Method Of Roasting Whole Duck
Roasting a whole duck does take a few hours in the oven, but hands-on time is minimal so there’s plenty of time to prepare side dishes and relax with guests while the duck cooks.
We’ve spent some time researching a variety of sources for reliable instructions on roasting duck. If you do the same, you’ll find a big variance when it comes to time, technique and temperature.
After preparing a number of roast ducks over the years, we’ve settled on this version because:
- It is by far the easiest method we’ve found.
- It doesn’t produce the smoke you can get with higher roasting temperatures.
- The skin consistently turns out crispy and golden.
- The meat doesn’t dry out – even near the ends of the drumsticks.
Here are a couple of additional things to consider:
- Everyone’s oven is different, so if you find that you’re getting too much browning on some areas of the skin, shield them with foil. Be sure to rotate your pan in the oven too.
- Coat your racks very thoroughly with nonstick spray to make turning the duck over as easy as possible. If you can, re-coat the rack every time you turn the duck. You don’t want to have any of that lovely, crispy skin stick to the rack!
Roast Duck with Orange-Rosemary Sauce
Slow-roasting a whole duck yields a flavorful, moist bird with a beautiful crispy, golden skin. Served with a simple Orange-Rosemary Sauce, it’s an impressive yet easy entrée to serve for family and friends.
- Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Main Dish
- Cuisine: American
- 1 Pekin (Long Island) duck, 5 to 6 pounds
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large navel orange
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
For the Orange Rosemary Sauce:
- 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed if possible)
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Zest of 1 orange
- Thoroughly coat a roasting pan and rack with nonstick spray.
- Cut 4 slices from the center of the orange for garnish and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut the remainder of the orange into wedges and set aside.
- Remove the neck, giblets, liver and heart from the cavity of the duck and reserve for another use or discard.
- Trim away any flaps of excess skin from around the cavity and tail area. Rinse the duck in cool water and pat dry with paper towels inside and out.
- Season the duck’s cavity with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, then stuff with the orange wedges and rosemary sprigs.
- Bend the wing tips under the bird and tie the legs together with cotton twine. Place the duck, breast side up on the prepared roasting rack.
Note: If you’re able, prepare the duck to this point and refrigerate uncovered overnight. This will help to dry the skin, making for a crispier end result.
- Set the duck aside for 1 hour to allow it to come to room temperature (do not cover).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Using the tip of a sharp knife, prick the skin of the duck all over (1/4-inch spacing), being careful not to pierce all the way through to the meat.
- Rub kosher salt and pepper all over the duck, top and bottom, then place it in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
- Remove the duck from the oven, turn it breast side down on the rack and continue roasting. It’s a good idea to rotate the pan in the oven as well to ensure even browning.
- Repeat this process every 30 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the duck’s thigh registers 165°F. Total cooking time should be about 2-1/2 hours.
- Once cooked, tilt the duck to drain the fat and juices that have accumulated in the cavity into the roasting pan. Tent loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
- While the duck rests, prepare the sauce. Combine the orange juice, rosemary and mustard in a small saucepan and bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat.
- Cook, uncovered, until reduced to about 1/2 cup, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the vinegar, butter and orange zest and stir until the butter has melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To serve, transfer the carved duck to a serving platter and garnish with fresh orange slices and sprigs of rosemary. Drizzle with sauce and serve immediately.
VARIATION: SPICED POMEGRANATE SAUCE
Spiced Pomegranate Sauce is delicately spiced and makes a delicious complement to roast duck, chicken, Cornish hens and pork.
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 teaspoons minced shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground ginger
- 3/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, 1-1/2 minutes. Sprinkle with the allspice, cinnamon and ginger.
- Add the pomegranate and orange juices, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a rapid simmer. Cook, uncovered, until reduced to about 1/2 cup, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and remaining tablespoon of butter and stir until the butter has melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm. Makes 1/2 cup.
Recipe Keywords: Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner