Roast Duck – with Crispy Skin!

Duck is definitely a protein that I do not cook with often – coming to think of it, I don’t think I have made anything to do with duck – ever! But last week C and I decided that we were going to attempt to make a roast duck in lieu of the traditional roast turkey for Thanks Giving.

As always before I embark on something new, I did a fair bit of research on various recipes and cooking techniques and found this fantastic blog The Hungry Mouse which had a step by step guide on ‘how to roast a duck’.  It was brilliant and the photos incredibly helpful – especially when you are feeling uncertain and insecure about your cooking abilities (believe me…we all have those days!).

The trick of this recipe, seems to be the low cooking temperature the long cooking time and the constant rotation and poking of the duck every hour for 4 hours!  It is this poking, which ensures that you get very crispy skin, as it renders out all of the fat from the duck.

Before you get scared off by the sound of this or by the length of the instructions below, let me reassure you it is actually rather straight forward and it is one of those dishes that pretty much looks after itself once it’s in the oven – just don’t forget to set your timer!

Roast Duck with Crispy Skin

For the Duck

  • 1 whole duck – 2.5-3 kg
  • Kosher salt

For the Glaze

  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ molasses
  • 3 tblsp orange juice
  • 1 tblsp soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tbslp Siriracha cili (I had none at home so used tobacco for a bit of a punch and it worked perfectly)


Preheat your oven to 140°C

Empty the cavity of the duck of all innards. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Generously sprinkle cavity with salt (I also put in half an onion I had kicking about in the fridge and some cloves of garlic)

Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan. On the breast-side, score a diamond pattern into the duck skin with a very sharp knife (see picture below). You want to cut through most of the skin but not to cut through the meat. (this is the hardest part of the whole duck roasting process!)

As you can see at certain points, I scored far too deep – but did not penetrate the skin

Cut off any excess skin at either end of the duck’s cavity. There will be a lot of extra skin where the neck used to be, make sure you cut that all off.

Prick the duck’s skin all over with a sharp knife. This is to create small holes that will let the fat escape, the more fat that escapes the crispier skin (again, make sure you don’t hit the meat)

Cross the legs and tie them together with twine, and fold the wings behind the ducks body (as you would do with a chicken).

Now season the duck generously with salt and pop it into the oven breast side up for 1 hour.

This is how it should look like after one hour – still pale, but starting to get some colour

After the first hour, take out the duck and pierce the skin with a sharp knife all over the breast-side, paying particular attention to around the legs where there is a lot of fat.Flip the duck, so that it is breast-side down and roast for another hour.

After the 2 hour, take the duck out of the oven, prick it all over  and then flip it over again so that it is breast-side up. Pop it back in the oven for another hour.

After 3 hour, repeat the step above, but flip the duck so its back to breast- side down.

In the last hour, it is now time to make your glaze. In a medium sauce pan, combine the honey, molasses, orange juice, soy sauce and hot sauce. Bring to a simmer. Stir continuously over medium-high heat for a few minutes until it gets thick and syrupy. Set glaze aside until the duck comes out of the oven.

After 4 hours of roasting and just before the glaze came on.

FINALLY after 4 hours take your duck out of the oven, and now increase the heat to 200°C. If you want to save all that rendered duck fat, do so now before you put the glaze on. Once the oven hits 200°C, flip your duck one last time so it is breast side up and pop it back into the oven for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes you should now have a pretty crispy golden brown duck on your hands. Take the duck out of the oven, and brush the entire surface with the glaze so that it is completely covered.

Pop it back into the oven for a further 5-7 minutes, but keeping a close eye on it, and take it out immediately if it starts to burn. You should now have a beautiful mahogany roast duck!

Let rest for 10 minutes

Phew….now its time to eat :) As mentioned previously, do not get discouraged by the length of the instructions, essentially every hour on the hour, take the duck out poke it and flip it and put it back in the oven! So in summary:

  1. Score the skin, cut off excess fat, and poke it all over
  2. Salt and truss
  3. Roast at 140 degrees for 1 hour, breast-side up
  4. Poke, flip, roast for 1 hour, breast-side down
  5. Poke, flip, roast for 1 hour, breast-side up
  6. Poke, flip, roast for 1 hour, breast side down
  7. Poke, flip, blast at 200 degrees for 10 minutes, breast-side up
  8. Brush with glaze
  9. Finish at 200 degrees for 5-7 minutes
  10. Rest, carve & serve

I do have to admit though, I spent so much time worrying about this duck and if I was doing it right, and keeping an eye on it, that when it came to actually eating it, I had lost my appetite and only managed to eat a couple of bites. But I was assured that it was the best duck C and our friend had ever eaten and I have a pile of bones to prove it :)

3 thoughts on “Roast Duck – with Crispy Skin!

  1. Alex, you have done it again! The duck sounds fantastic, but I am surprised to see that you were cooking with organge…..! One question though, won’t the meat be dry as you seem to get rid of all the fat? Lots of love, Mamma

    1. Hej Mamma – actually no. I think there is so much fat in duck that by slowly rendering it away, you end up with lovely moist meat! And I have to admitt…the orange juice threw me a bit too…but decided to swallow my pride, and it turne dout really well! I think I might have to tackle duck l’orange next ;)

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