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Roast duckling is an exceptionally elegant, tender, crisp and absolutely delicious dish. Many people are put off cooking duck as they feel it is too fatty and if it is not well prepared, then yes, it can be very fatty. But, I was taught many years ago, while living in Paris a very easy way to prepare roast duck that ensures the meat is soft and juicy and the skin golden and crispy and best of all, there is no fat! Ever since, I prepare my roast duck this way and everyone loves it. It is actually very easy and the entire dish can be prepared ahead of time, so it is a great dinner party recipe. The ducklings may be simmered and prepared for roasting, then placed in aluminum foil and refrigerated for 2 days and the sauce can also be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated in a sealed container. Then on the day itself, all you have to do is to roast the ducklings and boil the sauce for 2 minutes before serving. Et voilà, diner est servi!
Basically, what I do is simmer and roast. Simmering serves two purposes – it cooks the meat and therefore shortens the dry roasting and it renders down the layer of fat, basting and moistening the duckling at the same time. And then I roast for a short 30 minutes to crisp up the skin. it turns out a delicious duckling each and every time. The sauce quantities are very generous and I usually always keep an extra jar in the freezer.

IMG_6548IMG_6549IMG_6550IMG_6553Serves 8


4 small ducklings
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 carrots, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
2 leeks, roughly chopped
orange peels (from sauce ingredients)
10 black peppercorns
1 large onion, quartered
A few sprigs of fresh parsley
100 g / 3 1/2 oz sugar  200 ml / 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
80 ml / 1/3 cup cornstarch
3 oranges, grated rind and juice
250 ml / 1 cup water
1,5 l / 6 cups stock (from above after boiling ducks)
125 ml / 1/2 cup brandy
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 200 C / 400 F
Clean ducklings well
Combine the celery, leeks, carrots, orange skins, peppercorns, onion and parsley in a very large saucepan or dutch oven
Add the ducklings and cover with boiling water
Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer
Cook for 1 hour
Carefully remove the ducklings from the stock
Cut them in half and trim excess skin
Wrap in aluminum foil and keep refrigerated until about 30 minutes before roasting
Discard all the solids in the stock by straining it
Boil until reduced to about 1,5 l / 6 cups
Meanwhile, combine sugar and vinegar in a medium saucepan
Boil uncovered, until it darkens and obtains a syrupy consistency
Mix the cornstarch with the orange juice and add it to the sugar and vinegar
Add the orange rind and the 1,5 l stock / 6 cups
Simmer until the sauce is clear and thickened, about 5 minutes
Remove from heat, add brandy and season to taste
Place the cut ducklings, skin side up, on a large baking tray
Season well with coarse salt (this helps to crisp the skin)
Roast for 30 minutes until skin crispy
Place half duckling on each plate and serve accompanied with the sauce