Roast duck

For 8 people.

3 (4 to 5 lb) ducklings
1 Tbsp of cooking oil
1 carrot and 1 onion roughly chopped
Salt, thyme, bay leaf
1/2 cup of Dijon mustard
1 cup of white bread crumbs
2 Tbsp of butter, 2 Tbsp of minced shallots
1/2 cup of Madeira wine

  • Chop ducks’ wings off at the elbows and brown them in cooking oil with the necks, gizards and vegetables in a heavy saucepan.
  • Cover with water, add the herbs and simmer with 1/2 tsp of salt for 2 hours.
  • Sprinkle inside of ducks with 1/4 tsp of salt, a pinch of thyme and tuck in a bay leaf.
  • Pull out any fat from inside neck and cavity.
  • Prick the skin where you see yellow fat under skin.
  • Truss the wings and then the legs.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place ducks breast up in a roasting pan and set in middle of oven.
  • Roast 30 to 35 minutes until breast meat is just springy to the touch.
  • While the ducks are still warm, peel off their skin from the breasts.

Cut up the duck:

  • Remove the legs and separate leg from thigh.
  • Cut skin into strips and place in baking dish.
  • Paint legs and thighs with a thin coating of mustard, roll in crumbs, season to taste and put in another baking dish.
  • Cut the breast meat into thin slices and reserve in warm oven.
  • Add the rest of the carcass to your cooking stock and make sure it cooks for at least 1/2 hour (see first paragraph for 2 hours total cooking time).
  • Drain, degrease and reserve this duck stock for the sauce. You should have about 1 cup.
  • Melt 2 Tbsp of butter in a frying pan, sprinkle in the shallots and cook slightly.
  • Pour in the Madeira wine and the duck stock.
  • Reduce gently while doing the final roasting.
  • Reheat oven to 400°F.
  • Half an hour before you plan to serve dinner, set skin strips and duck legs in the upper third level of the oven.
  • Roast skin until brown.
  • Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain.
  • Toss with salt and pepper.
  • Roast legs until just tender for 20 minutes.
  • Keep both warm in turned off oven until ready to serve.
  • Set the thin slices of breast meat in a pan.
  • Cover with some of the duck stock and bring to a gentle simmer to poach the meat.
  • Arrange it on a hot platter and boil down the cooking juice until syrupy while you arrange the legs and the skin cracklings on the platter.
  • Pour the juice over the breast meat and serve at once.
  • Pour the rest of the sauce into a gravy boat for additional serving.

Confit de canard

Often only the legs and thighs of the duck are used for confit. The breast, called a magret, is cooked like a steak. If you intend to use the duck alone instead of using it to flavour other dishes such as cassoulet, reduce the amount of salt in this recipe by one third.

 1 large duck (about 4 lb)
3 Tbsp of coarse salt
1 tsp of ground pepper
2 or 3 sprigs of thyme
1 or 2 bay leaves, crumbled
3 lb of lard or duck fat

  • Cut the duck in 8 pieces, trimming the neck and wing and removing the backbone; these bones can be used for a soup.
  • Rub each piece of duck with some of the coarse salt and put it in a crock or terrine.
  • Sprinkle with pepper and the remaining salt and add the thyme and bay leaves.
  • Cover and leave in a cool place for 6 to 12 hours depending on how strong a flavour you want, turning the pieces occasionally.
  •  When ready to cook, wipe the excess salt from the duck pieces.
  • Set the oven at 300F.
  • Lay the duck pieces skin side down in a flameproof casserole and cook over a low fire for 15-20 minutes until the fat runs and the duck browns lightly.
  • Add enough fat to cover the browned duck.
  • Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the duck is very tender and has rendered all its fat.
  • To preserve the duck; pour a layer of rendered duck fat at the bottom of a small terrine and leave until set.
  • Pack the pieces of duck on top and pour enough fat to cover them completely.
  • Cover the crock and keep in a cool place at least a week for the flavour to mellow.
  • If sealed with a cloth sprinkled with salt and then covered with paper, confit will keep for several months in a cool place.
  • To serve the confit by itself, leave it in a warm place until the fat runs.
  • Drain it, then fry it in a little fat until it is very hot and the skin is crisp and brown