OT: Best way to cook a duck?

Submitted by SteamboatWolverine on March 21st, 2017 at 9:47 AM

In honor of our esteemed opponent on Thursday, I would like to prepare a meal fit for the occasion. I wasn't able to find duck breast anywhere, but I found a local butcher who has whole duck.

After wading through the youtube my preference is to cook it on the grill using the "beer can chicken" method, but it sounds a little tricky and proper temperature is critical. 

I would be very appreciative if anyone in the MGoBlog community has experience cooking whole ducks, and particularly, "beer can duck" on the grill.  I can't remember a tastier opponent, and do not want to let this opportunity slip away.



March 21st, 2017 at 9:57 AM ^

Best way to prepare a duck. But I've spent the past few weeks I Taiwan. I've had duck heart, head, neck, blood, testicles, and intestines. It is one tasty animal.

I can't wait for Thursday to have some more!!


March 21st, 2017 at 10:01 AM ^

I had a very bad experience with a duck on a grill.  I got a big fire from the incredible amount of fat dripping off the duck.  A great way to cook a duck is actually to break it down and cook the breasts one way and confit the legs. If you aren't comfortable doing that the butcher should be able to do it for you.  And you can render any excess fat to cook potatoes in.


March 21st, 2017 at 10:24 AM ^

I vastly prefer a wild duck to his domestic cousin, but yes,filet out the breasts, sear   it an and finish to med. rare in a hot oven.  Make a pan sauce while they rest. Slice them against the grain and serve hot. Confit the legs.

Another good option is a gumbo. Get some shrimp or oysters and a little andoullie to go with the duck and you're in bidness


March 21st, 2017 at 1:40 PM ^

I hunt and cook duck and have prepared all the ways other posters have mentioned. Very hard to traditionally direct grill a duck because of the thick fat layer. Breaking it down; taking the skin off and brining it is one way, but it loses its daffiness without that delicous breast fat.

Best ways? Brine; truss and rotisserie at medium-high heat with a drip pan fillled with par cooked potato slices that absorb the duck drippings.

Or, my second favorite way is to dress the duck; break it down without fat and stir fry to be put into duck egg rolls!

Happy eatin!


March 21st, 2017 at 10:03 AM ^

Agree that the grill could be an issue due to all the fat. I've just pan seared the breast before with a chipotle rub. That was pretty tasty.


March 21st, 2017 at 10:07 AM ^

I would recommend duck 2 ways.  I'd butcher the duck so that I had 4 pieces of meat, 2 thigh -leg parts, 2 breasts.  Take the skin/fat from the other parts and render down for duck fat. Connfit the thigh - legs and serve over a medley of greens (salad).  Main course of duck breast, medium rare with roasted fingerling potatoes or beets.  


March 21st, 2017 at 10:10 AM ^

In case you're serious this is the way my family always cooked them during our duck hunting weekends:

Chop up apples, oranges, and onions into quarters.  Take a pint of orange juice and mix it with a 750ml bottle of cheap red wine.  Depending on the sweet or savory you want, you can change the mixture, but my family always went with this rough 2:3 conversion.  

Stuff the ducks with the fruit and onions, put them into a deep baking pan and pour the oj and red wine mixture over them and make sure there is plenty on the bottom of the pan you want the ducks to look like they're swimming in it.  Throw whatever is left of the apples, oranges, onions into the pan as well.

Cook the Ducks at 500' for twenty minutes and then at 350' for an hour.  

Make wild rice with celery as a side, as an alternative you can stuff the ducks with the wild rice, but I prefer using the fruit as it puts a lot of moisture and flavor into the duck

At about half an hour, drain some of the oj red wine mixture that should by now have accumulated juices from the ducks and mix it with flour to make a gravy.  This gravy is best on the duck, you can put it on the rice as well, but I'm not a fan of the taste.  However on the duck itself it's a nice accompaniment.

Get the ducks out of the oven, serve one whole to each person at the table and dig in, eat carefully to avoid crunching down on a shot pellet.  

Best duck you'll ever have.

Pan frying is good as well, but duck can be pretty gamy so you have to go after the right sauce and the right spices to put in the flour.  


March 21st, 2017 at 10:55 AM ^

I think this might be a winner.  Confit sounds great, but I don't have the time or skilz to do that.  This sounds delicious and I don't have to worry about the shot pellets because I'm a city boy and this bird is coming from the butcher.

One question - you said one duck per person... are your ducks small or do I need a few of these things?


March 21st, 2017 at 2:29 PM ^

Smaller and much less fatty than your domestic ones.  If you do his recipe, you should have 1 bird per 2 people plus sides.  Also, while the meat rests under foil let the gravy cool a bit before adding your flour and skim as much fat as you can.  Then reheat on the stovetup before adding the Wondra.


March 21st, 2017 at 2:54 PM ^

I have never cooked domestic duck, but jmdblue's advice seems spot on in accounting for the difference in size.  

This recipe is usually for pintails, teal and the like.  We tended to fry Mallard's and cook Shoveler's in gumbo(if you didn't recognize them in time to not shoot).  

It's delicious and I hope you enjoy.


March 21st, 2017 at 11:06 AM ^

have you ever tried flipping when you do the different temps? like do the low first? that's how i roast split chicken breasts, 350 for about 45 min first, lets the meat cook nicely and renders some fat out of the skin, then blast it at 500 for about 10 min to crisp up the skin. when it comes out of the over, i immediately separate the skin from the breast so it stays crispy while the meat rests.


March 21st, 2017 at 2:49 PM ^

I haven't but that's an interesting thought.  Keep in mind this is a family recipe so I've never deviated, but I think the point is to take more of a slow-cooking approach to it, keep the meat moist and try to get some of the gaminess out of the birds.  I'll give your way a try next time.


March 21st, 2017 at 10:15 AM ^

I'm a simple person, so I've always had luck taking the breast and letting it sit in zesty italian dressing for about 24 hours. Then, I wrap bacon around the breasts and toothpick it to stay and then cook it slowly on the grill. 


March 21st, 2017 at 10:20 AM ^

I just cooked a whole duck on Sunday on my Big Green Egg. I stuffed it with sliced lemon and sage, cooked it on indirect heat at 300 degrees for about 3 hours. It was a 5 pound duck. I used cherry wood to lightly smoke it as well. It turned out very good. Be sure to poke some holes in the skin to let the fat out while cooking and use a drip pan if able.


March 21st, 2017 at 10:27 AM ^

First beat into submission or use an arm bar or full nelson to subdue it. Next you'll want to find the large tank of godl coins it has been swiming in.  Profit. 


March 21st, 2017 at 10:44 AM ^

Fresh duck breast maybe had at Sparrows Market in Kerrytown.

Easy and fantastic method

1) preheat oven to maybe 400

2) score duck breasts on fatty skin side (make light hash marks with a knife but don't cut all the way through to the flesh

3) heat a cast iron skillet on the stove

4) Place the duck breast skin down: salt lightly. Cool for six minutes. The skin will get brown and crisp.

5) Flip the breasts to skin side up and put the entire skillet in the heated oven for another six minutes. Remove

6) if you fear they are not quite done enough, let them rest for a couple more minutes outside the oven.

Don't forget to save the rendered duck fat to fry potatoes or what have you.

This is the easiest thing ever and man oh man is it good.


March 21st, 2017 at 10:59 AM ^

One of the many great things I've enjoyed at the Earle! :

Sautéed Duck Breasts (GF)
Boneless duck breasts sautéed medium-rare…pan sauced with applejack brandy, cider, apples and brown sugar…with run-plumped raisins…served with a potato-turnip purée.

The Fan in Fargo

March 21st, 2017 at 11:14 AM ^

Back when I had the ambition to get up real early and go sit in the wet grass, I'd shoot a few green heads. My mother would put the breasts in a crock pot with some cream of mushroom in a can recipe. I'm sure it can be found online somewhere and it is very delicious. One of my neighboors in college also had a miniature deep fat fryer in his dorm and would throw breasts right in there with some cajun breading mix. That was amazing while having a few beers.


March 21st, 2017 at 11:45 AM ^

Start bonfire in back yard.

Poke holes in skin. 

Salt/pepper lightly. 

Stuff inside with a few oranges, lemons, pineapples and your favorite herbs (sage, a bit of rosemary go nicely).

Put duck on a spit and roast over open fire.