ostensibly simple roast duck recipe
February 20, 2002

« hapless, duckless (part one) | Main | starting off simple (vegan diaries) »

Simple Roast Duck with Found Ingredient Sauce


  • One duck, mostly unfrozen

  • Two 8 oz cans of apricot jam with dust on the lids (see preparation instructions)

  • 4 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped very fine (or ground)

  • Dregs of the chutney bottle found in the back of the fridge

  • The last bit of chardonnay which is just taking up space in the refrigerator door, about 3 tbsp.

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp soy sauce

  • red pepper flakes

  • shallots and garlic


  1. Remove the duck from the fridge. Realize, as the duck lands on your finger, that although the top of the bird is soft and pliable, the bottom is still frozen solid. Decide that you should wait another day before cooking the duck, especially considering that the bag of giblets that the shippers have thoughtfully placed into its crotch is frozen there and does not look amenable to being pried out. Put the duck back into the refrigerator and consider other food options.

  2. Realize that there are no other food options, and further, that if you don't roast the duck now, you won't be able to for four more days due to scheduling issues. Pull the duck back out of the refrigerator and put it on the counter, taking care to avoid dropping it onto your fingers.

  3. Look in the cupboard for apricot jam. Remember that you used all of the apricot jam for an ill-fated chicken recipe two months ago. Run quickly to the scummy corner market. They do not have apricot jam. Panic. Run to the equally scummy market on the next block. Fortunately, they have two jars of apricot jam. Buy them, taking care to wipe off the thick layer of dust that has accumulated on all horizontal surfaces. Return home.

  4. Fill a tall stockpot nearly full of water -- enough water to cover the bird, but making sure to leave room for the bird itself.

  5. Using a big cooking knife or some other large prodding instrument, attempt to unfix the duck's frozen legs from its body and pry open its crotch, ignoring any symbolism or personal associations that may come to mind. Pry out the bag of giblets without ripping it, which is a task, because it too is frozen to the bird, as is the bird's severed neck, which you should remove as well. Poke around briefly for the bird's head, just in case they decided to include that, too. Cut off the bird's wingtips and the large flap of fat and skin at the neck and put these in the stockpot. Prick the duck skin all over with a fork, deep enough to poke through the skin, but not deep enough to actually penetrate the meat.

  6. Insert duck into tall stockpot filled with hot water. Note the boiling hot water spilling over the sides of the pot, onto the stove, the counter, and scalding your skin. This indicates that you have inadequately calculated the displacement of the duck. Curse. Remove duck from water. Mop up water from stove. Pour out some water from pot, taking care not to burn yourself.

  7. Insert duck into stockpot. Watch the displaced water rise and observe that it looks like there is enough to cover the duck completely, but note that after it fills the body cavity of the duck, there is not quite enough. Add more water glass by glass because the stockpot is too big to put into the sink, particularly due to all of the dirty dishes.

  8. Remember that you should add the neck and giblets to the stockpot during this process. Add neck. Grab the pack of giblets and be surprised that it is not in fact a pack of giblets, but is instead instant orange sauce that the vendor has included as a bonus. This means the packaging for the giblets is still in the bird, which is in boiling water in the stockpot.

  9. Curse. Grab whatever kitchen implements are within reach and attempt to remove the bird from the boiling water, ignoring personal safety as many of your exposed surfaces have burns anyway. Grope inside the bird for the package of giblets. Remove it gingerly, as the package is made of paper and is completely soaked through. Put the giblets in the stock and return the bird to the pot. Mop up water from the stove and counter surface where you set the bird.

  10. Let bird cook for 45 minutes. Attempt to relax. Fire up the Playstation, as you're nearly done with Bandersnach 2: Frumious Vengance and you'd like to finish it before dinner.

  11. Remove the bird from the pot. Pat it dry. Set aside the stock for further reduction later, for which you will also use the inedible portions of the bird carcass. Return to your Playstation, where you're not making as much progress as you'd like. Despite your slithy gyrations, your progress is still stymied by jaws that bite and claws that catch. Allow yourself 30 minutes or so to find and kill the Bandersnatch and for the bird to air-dry. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  12. Despite the fact that the Bandersnatch is not yet dead, put the bird on a roasting rack in a roasting pan along with some of the stock for basting. Put the pan in the oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes, after which you intend to baste the duck. Go back to your Playstation.

  13. When the timer goes off, remove the duck from the oven. Notice giant billow of smoke when you open the oven. Take some comfort in the rapidity with which the smoke alarms go off all over the house. Close the oven door, try desperately to find some place to put the roasting pan down that won't cost you your entire move-in deposit, and race around the house with your girlfriend, opening windows and doors, putting towels over fire alarms, and, finally, pulling their batteries. Marvel at how the new fire alarms keep sounding even when you pull their batteries. Bring a fan into the kitchen to assist with cross-ventilation.

  14. Baste the duck. Listen to your girlfriend when she suggests, based on the mess that you're making with the basting, that the reason for the smoke is that the roasting pan isn't deep enough and the roasting rack is too tall, so that fat is splashing out of the pan and onto the oven's surfaces. Watch as she fastens a makeshift splashguard out of aluminum foil. Marvel at her perceptiveness and efficiency, but don't mention it to her; she's got enough of an ego already.

  15. Return the duck to the oven. Set the timer for another 15 minutes. Realize that the duck is almost ready but you haven't given any thought to side dishes yet. Screw side dishes, you haven't even made the sauce yet, the sauce which is half of the reason that you wanted to make duck in the first place. Embrace a moral relativism that allows you to leave the Bandersnatch to rule his domain as he pleases while freeing you to make the sauce for the duck.

  16. Put a little oil in the a pan, and throw in 2 tbsp of ginger and perhaps some garlic. Saute. Add the contents of one jar of apricot jam. Add some vinegar, about 1/8 cup. Stir. Taste. Add some more to taste, leaning towards the strong side because that's how you like it. Add a tbsp of soy sauce for the salt. Let the girlfriend taste it. She will think it too vinegary. Tell her it will calm down after cooking a bit. While her back is turned, dilute it with a couple of tablespoons of jam from the other jar, just in case.

  17. Decide that you want some sauce your way. After hers is done, pour it into a serving container and repeat the sauce recipe, only this time sauteeing shallots along with the ginger, and adding red pepper flakes. Supplement the lost jam with the dregs of a bottle of chutney that you found in the back of the fridge, as long as there's no fuzz around the lid.

  18. Check the temperature at the base of the thigh -- the duck's, not yours -- after 30 minutes in the oven. It should be nearly done.

Voila! A simple roast duck recipe suitable for a weeknight.

February 20, 2002 in best, old_site, recipes | Permalink


This is the best duck recipe I have ever used. I replace the Playstation with a book, but otherwise -- it's just great. Thank you!

Posted by: roadnotes at Nov 25, 2004 6:10:46 PM

Have not yet tried this on a duck yet but this is by far the funniest recipe I have ever read and had a most enjoyable time reading it! If only the duck would turn out to be only a fraction as good I'd be thrilled...Thanks for the fun!!

Posted by: Karen at Dec 14, 2005 12:28:50 PM

This recipe is hysterical! I was researching a duck recipe for Christmas eve and thought I had settled on one by the infamous Jacques Pepin...until I found this one. I think I'll have more fun with it and can't wait to see how it turns out. Keep the sense of humor!

Posted by: Mrs. Phoenix at Dec 20, 2005 6:11:12 AM

Can't wait to try this! I have a duck in the freeze for Christmas, my first cooking attempt. Will have sisters helping (imbibing) so I'm sure it will be the best! Thanks, and hope to get another recipe from you soon, maybe without the burns. Ha Ha Leah

Posted by: Leah at Dec 22, 2005 6:15:07 PM

I hope this is an actual recipe. will be doing it for all my family next week. Never cooked duck before but the humour has given me the enthusiasm! I too bought my duck for a xmas meal but other people's 'scheduling issues' put it in the freezer.Can't wait to try it!Funny-I've got all the ingredients!

Posted by: Gazza 'the chef' at Jan 6, 2006 2:45:38 AM

Haven't tried the recipe yet. Bought the duck before christmas. Forgot about the duck. Remembered the duck when a package of bacon, 2 chickens and a pork roast came flying out of the freezer and I discovered the duck at the bottom. We're having duck tomorrow. It's my first time...wish me luck!
It's so nice to see that normal people post recipes too...thank you!!!

Posted by: C at Feb 25, 2006 9:40:55 PM

Great recipe, boiling it sure works well. Big time smoky kitchen and dirty oven, wife damn near divorced me. She's outta town so doin it again tonight.

Posted by: Steve at Mar 2, 2006 3:09:09 PM


Posted by: LULU at Sep 16, 2006 11:41:41 AM

A good read

Posted by: Scuts at Dec 21, 2006 5:52:44 PM

An absolutely hilarious approach to cooking. Well written recipe which adds not only only a liberal dose of humour but also manages to impart the flavour of gritty reality often employed by my husband! Thank you for a fantastic recipe and I look forward to reading more of your culinary adventures.

Posted by: Morag at Dec 31, 2006 5:08:38 AM

Ahh, you cook like I do! Finally a recipe I can relate to. Replace girlfriend with wife, and playstation with Xbox, and I though somebody had peeked into my kitchen. I'll be "trying" this recipe tomorrow evening.

Posted by: Aaron Robins at Feb 3, 2007 4:49:36 PM

What a wonderful read!

I first found the recipe for "old-fashioned" roast duck, so will be turning the bird(s) every 1/2 hour until I have the right degree of juicy flesh and crispy skin.

Posted by: Ruth di Giovanni at Dec 17, 2007 10:22:11 AM

Hilarity aside, this is a terrific recipe for duck ... much more of the fat melts out of the bird through the poaching process then would if you just stuck it straight into the oven. The breast stays nice and moist and the legs come out properly done. And the skin is amazingly crisp. I find that if you pour a little water into the roasting tin, the fat doesn't spatter quite as much. If you like duck, and plan to make this again, consider making duck stock with the left over bones and scraps, and freeze it until the next time 'round. Then, instead of using water to simmer the duck, use your stock ... the flavour is terrific.

Posted by: Allan at Jan 31, 2009 12:33:31 PM

very funny and nicely described. I would surely try it for my wife. she always complains that i never cook for her. Now, it's my chance to prove myself with this funniest and (i hope) delicious duck recipe. I wish she should not find this recipe here :D

Posted by: Ukf8001axx at May 29, 2009 9:58:03 PM

I have a duck in the freeze for Christmas, my first cooking attempt. Will have sisters helping (imbibing) so I'm sure it will be the best! Thanks, and hope to get another recipe from you soon, maybe without the burns.

Posted by: club penguin cheats at Jul 24, 2009 11:15:44 PM

Sounds surprisingly good. We'll see if I can pull it off.

Posted by: Kids Online Avatar Games at Oct 15, 2009 11:36:47 AM

very funny and nicely described. I would surely try it for my wife. she always complains that i never cook for her. Now, it's my chance to prove myself with this funniest and (i hope) delicious duck recipe. I wish she should not find this recipe here :D

Posted by: Luxury Car Seats at Oct 29, 2009 9:48:04 AM

That is just so ducking funny

Posted by: shane at Jan 23, 2010 12:51:57 AM

Thank you for a fantastic recipe and I look forward to reading more of your culinary adventures.

Posted by: payday loans alberta at Apr 29, 2010 12:49:43 PM

I am thoroughly convinced in this said post. I am currently searching for ways in which I could enhance my knowledge in this said topic you have posted here. It does help me a lot knowing that you have shared this information here freely. I love the way the people here interact and shared their opinions too. I would love to track your future posts pertaining to the said topic we are able to read.

Posted by: stretch marks at Dec 4, 2010 1:21:13 AM

I really love to cook. I wanna try this at home. I just can't wait. This is very detailed and easy to follow. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: skin moles at Dec 7, 2010 4:54:25 PM

I love roasted duck. For me, duck recipes are better than chicken recipes. This recipe gives me another way to cook. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Posted by: skin moles at Dec 7, 2010 5:13:55 PM

Well, I love to cook especially Roast Duck. I never thought that this was the right recipe for the roast duck. Because its different whats my mother tech me. Well, I will try this recipe.

Posted by: skin tags at Jan 25, 2011 3:30:24 AM

I would go with the 5 hour method. So easy- all you really have to do is pierce the skin every half hour or so. Comes out so crispy and delicious. This is the method I used the first time I cooked duck- no steaming or boiling and drying needed. Anyway this is a great recipe.

Posted by: garlic breath at Feb 12, 2011 7:31:42 AM

i pretty much make it the exact same way just make sure you don't overcook it...
i need to get a recipie to some duck i had a long time ago it was chamborg sauce with shalots on roasted duck breast and legs with garlic mashed potatos it was great...

Posted by: gallbladder disease symptoms at Feb 14, 2011 10:11:03 PM