An Apple A Day Ends With Roasted Duck

Well you have made it. Congratulations.

This is the final post in my weeklong tribute to apples. That’s right, 8 recipes featuring apples have rolled across these pages in an equal number of days. At SippitySup we work hard, and 8‑day workweeks are not unheard of.

Your reward for sticking by me throughout these posts is the very best of the apple recipes. You may even learn something. Because not only has my brother Sip! paired this recipe with an interesting and affordable alternative to the highly esteemed Chateaunuef-du-Pape. But I have something for you too. I am going to put your fears to rest!

What fears you ask? Well your fears of cooking duck, of course.


grant henry chooses the wind for duckDuck is delicious. But it can be misunderstood in the kitchen. It is often rejected as “too fatty”, or labeled “gamey”, as if that were some sort of insult. Good duck has a certain wildness in its flavor, sure– but this is to be regarded as a good thing. In the right hands duck can be sublime.

And wouldn’t you like those “right hands” to be your very own left and right oven-mitts! Well I think I can help you there.

Because I am presenting a method of searing a duck that makes it no more difficult to cook than roasting chicken. I read about this method when reading an old cookbook from the 1980s by Joel Robuchon.

It is as simple as rotating the duck on all sides in a very hot oven. This way most of the fat is melted away from the flesh, but the flavorful cooking juices are locked in.

I am using the ducks trimmings and some aromatic vegetables to assist in flavoring both the duck and its sauce. The sauce is a super simple but flavorful combination of pan drippings made lively with citrus zest, honey and apple cider vinegar. To make this recipe work as a send off to our apple week I am serving golden sauteed apple wedges on the side.

Roasted Duck with Apples, Honey & Cider Vinegar serves 4

  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 clv garlic, halved
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 T zest from each an orange, lemon and lime
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lb apples, cored and sliced into 1/2″ wedges
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 3 T unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 (4–6 lb) duck, liver reserved, trimmings (neck, heart, wing tips) chopped

trussed duckPre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash and dry the duck inside and out very well, then season liberally with salt and pepper. Place the liver inside the cavity and truss the bird tightly. Place the duck, on it’s side, in a skillet or stove-top safe roasting pan, and set it into the oven to cook 10 minutes. Turn the duck to it’s other side and cook another 10 minutes. Turn the duck onto it back and roast yet another 10 minutes.

Remove the duck from the oven and add the chopped vegetables, garlic, thyme and chopped trimming to the pan surrounding the bird. You may remove the trussing string at this time. The duck will mostly hold it’s shape and the legs will brown and cook more evenly if allowed to sit off the body somewhat.

suateeed applesReturn the duck to the oven and cook an additional 12–14 minutes per pound, or until an internal thigh temperature reaches 155 degrees. The duck will continue to cook once removed from the oven and an interior temperature of 165 degrees F will soon be achieved. Spoon the pan juices over the bird several times as it cooks.

Once you remove the duck from the oven, season it again with salt and pepper and move it to a serving platter to rest at least 20 minutes so it can continue cooking. One trick I learned that improves the flavor of the breast meat is to set the duck resting at an angle with it’s head side down and it’s tail end elevated. A coffee mug works nicely for this. When a good angle is achieved the flavorful juices flow down hill through the breast meat and onto the platter where they may be reserved and added to the sauce at the last minute.

While the duck rests, caramelize the apple slices in 4 tablespoons of butter set over medium heat. This is easy to achieve if you lay the slices all in one layer and do not disturb them for about 6 minutes while they get golden brown on one side. Then flip them over and cook a few more minutes. Set them aside covered to stay warm while you make the sauce.

Place the skillet or roasting pan with the vegetables and trimming onto a burner set at medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often until nicely browned, 1 or 2 minutes. Then drain and discard most of the liquid in the pan, (it’s nearly all fat). Next add the honey to the pan with the remaining browned bits, and cook an additional moment more. Deglaze the pan with about 1/2‑cup water. Simmering the mixture about 5 minutes. Pour in the vinegar and cook another moment more.

roast duckStrain the sauce through a sieve placed over a clean saucepan. Press the solids to relieve them of as much flavor as possible. Add the duck juice that has collected on the serving platter and bring the sauce to a low boil. Taste the sauce as it may need a bit more vinegar, though do not let the vinegar flavor overpower the sauce.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter a little at a time, stirring all the while. The sauce will become slightly thickened. Stir in the citrus zests.

To serve carve the duck and arrange it on the serving platter, surrounded by the apples. Pour about half the sauce over the meat and use the rest to pass at the table. Serve immediately.


Greg Henry