Roast duck with beetroot and changing weather

The view is constantly changing from the kitchen window this week and there’s a definite autumnal feel to the weather.

Nothing to do with the weather whatsoever, on Thursday evening we had a delicious, totally home –produced meal and I just have to share. The recipe is courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (For any readers beyond the U.K., he’s a British chef into self-sufficiency, traditional animal husbandry,  a seasonal approach to cooking, sustainable food sources….you can see why I like him!)

This recipe is intended for a large ‘table’ bird such as the Aylesbury, so I had to make a slight adaptation because we only have muscovies available! These are far less fatty, so much so that I did actually drizzle the vegetables with a wee bit more oil. They also have a slightly more gamey flavour so I substituted some of my recently made Rowan Jelly for the redcurrant. Also, because of there being less fat, Hugh’s suggestion of an accompanying watercress and orange salad to ‘cut the fat’ wasn’t necessary and I served it with curly kale instead.


  • 1 large, fresh duck, free range and preferably organic, with neck and giblets
  • About 1 kg beetroot, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1kg potatoes, peeled cut for roasting and parboiled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the giblet stock/gravy:

  • The neck and giblets, and wing tips
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 carrot
  • A little oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small glass of red wine
  • ½ teaspoon redcurrant jelly (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7. If the duck is tied up, un-truss it – i.e. cut the strings and gently pull the legs apart, away from the body. This will help the heat to get at them.

2. Cut off the wing tips (the last bony segment) – there’s no meat on them and they will boost the flavour of the giblet stock. Make this first: roughly chop up the neck, heart, gizzard and wing tips, plus the onion, carrot and celery. Fry these over a fair heat in a little oil until the meat is nicely browned and the vegetables slightly caramelised. Transfer to a saucepan with the bay leaf, cover with water (about 600ml) and bring to a simmer. Leave at a gentle simmer for about 1¾ hours – i.e. the time it takes to cook the duck.

3. Now tackle the duck. Remove any obvious spare fat from inside the cavity.

4. Now, using a needle, prick the skin all over the fatty parts at the breast and where the breast joins the leg. Don’t prick deeper than is necessary just to pierce the skin. You want the fat to run, but not the juices from the meat. Season the skin lightly with salt and pepper. Put the bird in a roasting tin. Place into oven for about 20 minutes, so the fat starts to run. Then turn the oven down to 180°C/Gas Mark 4, baste the bird and return to the oven.

5. After another 20 minutes, add the vegetables, seasoned with salt and pepper.

6. Baste the duck every 20 minutes or so. Check the bird for doneness after about 1½ hours’ total cooking time. Poke a skewer into the thickest part of the leg, close to the breast. When the juices run clear, the bird is done. Tip the bird to pour any fat or juices out of the cavity into the roasting tin and transfer it to a warmed plate or carving tray.

7. Now fix the gravy. Carefully pour off the fat from the roasting tin into a heatproof bowl or dish, leaving the brown juices in the tin. Deglaze the tin with the red wine, scraping to release any tasty browned morsels. Strain the giblet stock and the deglazed pan juices, into a clean pan and boil hard to reduce them to a rich, syrupy gravy. Taste for seasoning, and add a little redcurrant jelly for sweetness, if you like.

8. To carve the bird for 4 people, slice between the legs and breast, then prise off the whole legs, carefully pulling the thighbone away from the body of the bird. Cut each leg in half at the joint between the thigh and the drumstick. Slice each whole breast from the carcass, with the crispy skin attached, then cut each breast into 5 or 6 thick slices. Offer each guest a few slices of breast, with either a thigh or a drumstick. Serve on warmed plates, with the gravy and some roast vegetables.


Tags: , , , , ,

4 Responses to “Roast duck with beetroot and changing weather”

  1. Kim Says:

    Hi, where can I find the original recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall?

  2. bluebunny01 Says:

    Another reason I need to get some meat ducks this year – looks amazing

    • garybuie01 Says:

      We do have a couple of Aylesbury girls who produce a more traditional table bird, but I like the muscovies as they are much less fatty and have a more gamey flavour. Also, they are great characters and are excellent mothers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: