Recipe: Crispy Roast Duck with Christmas spices

One 2kg duck will serve 4 people easily and if you have a crowd for lunch you can easily roast 2 or 3 ducks at the same time. I’ve used parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes here but any root vegetables will obviously work well. Duck is quite a forgiving meat and will still be succulent even if you overcook it slightly.

Serves 4-5 people.

1 x 2kg Gressingham duck2 clementines2 large red onions1 stick celery50g mushrooms3 large parsnips6 large carrots (or as preferred)3 large sweet potatoes6 bay leaves2 sprigs parsley2 sprigs rosemary2 large sprigs thyme6 black peppercorns1tsp juniper berries1 tsp all spice berries2 cinnamon sticks Grating of nutmeg5 cloves1 fat clove garlic2 tbsp sea saltHalf a lemon1 litre chicken stock200m port2 tbsp flour

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and remove the giblets from the duck. Strip the needles from one of the sprigs of rosemary and the leaves from one of the thyme stalks and chop finely. Zest one of the clementines and crush half the peppercorns with the juniper berries and allspice berries in a pestle and mortar to a fine texture. Add the clementine zest, chopped rosemary and thyme, a good grating of nutmeg and the sea salt and mix together.

2. Pat the duck dry with kitchen towels, prick the skin all over and rub with the spiced salt mix, ensuring the whole of the bird is covered. Halve the zested clementine and place inside the cavity of the duck with the cloves, cinnamon sticks, two of the bay leaves, clove of garlic and remaining sprig of rosemary. Place the duck on the bars of the oven shelf and place a deep-sided roasting tin on the shelf beneath to catch the fat as it drips through.


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3. To prepare the root vegetables for roasting: scrub the parsnips and  carrots (reserving two), peel the sweet potatoes and cut into large chunks. Par-boil the carrots and parsnips for 2 minutes in boiling salted water then drain, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

4. To prepare the vegetables for the gravy; peel and halve the red onions and halve two of the carrots and the celery stick then when the duck has had 40 minutes cooking quickly remove the tray from the oven pour the oil out into a dish and place the onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms and duck giblets into the roasting tray and return to the oven shelf underneath the duck.

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5. Cook the duck for a further 40 minutes then remove the roasting tray, tip out the gravy vegetables and giblets and replace with the parsnips, carrots and sweet potato chunks. Drizzle 2 tbsp of the reserved duck fat over the roasting vegetables and return the tray to the oven beneath the duck for a further 40 minutes.

6. To make the gravy heat 2tbsp of the duck fat in a large saucepan and when hot add the flour, stirring to make a roux. Gradually add the chicken stock and port then add the gravy vegetables (discarding the giblets at this stage) with the sprigs of parsley and the remaining bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns. Simmer gently for about half an hour until reduced and slightly thickened then strain the gravy, discard the vegetables and herbs, add the lemon juice and season to taste.

7. When the duck is cooked remove from the oven, place on a carving board, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. Serve the duck on a platter with the roasted vegetables and the remaining halved clementines for guests to squeeze over their meat.

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