Christmas Roast Duck with Port and Cherry Sauce and Fried Brussel Sprouts

December 7, 2011

Before I start proceedings, may I do some shameless self promotion? I know I’ve been doing a lot of pimping this past month (I’m actually starting to feel cheap lol) but I promise no more after this! I have two of my photos as finalists in the Eat Drink Blog photography competition and I need your support to increase my zero chance of winning to like, two percent? *grin* 

More importantly, I wanted to thank you all for your kind words, lovely comments and for voting for me in the Nuffnang Blog Awards these past few weeks. I can’t wait to head over to Malaysia next week to fly the flag for Oz and Sydney (and food blogs of course) in the Best Photography category. It’s an awesome way to cap off the year and I can’t be more grateful, win or lose.

Alrighty, enough tripe about me!

This is probably an odd recipe to put on my blog because well, for a large portion of my life, I actually banned duck meat from my diet. Why? Because I use to live next to two large duck ponds and we lovingly ‘adopted’ them all. No joke. Every single Muscovy, Peking, Indian Runner, Mallard and Australia Wood duck had a name (yes I was the crazy duck lady of Cherrybrook). Plus we adopted a few special ones to our personal care after some unfortunate circumstances. My favourite one was a muscovy called Samuel who grew up to be Mr Aggressive Alpha Male. He use to attack my laundry. And my rubbish bags. And other people’s ankles. I miss that grumpy ol’ bastard so much.

NOT Samuel rest assured

So it wasn’t until recently that the ‘guilt’ faded and I slowly started to enjoy duck again. Months ago (yes months), I had a duck sent to me thanks to Game Farm but of course, life got in the way and this poor bugger sat undisturbed in a cryogenic slumber. Seeing as Christmas was around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time to defrost it for a practice run (because nothing brings down the Christmas spirit quite like a ruined dinner. And nobody likes a dry bird).

I checked with a whole heap of recipes and tips on roasting whole ducks and settled on a simple approach. Stuffed with aromatics, slow roasted and coated with a glaze made from whatever was lying around. The result was amazing. The skin, sweet, sticky and glistening with the flavour of honey and port, was obviously the best part, while the meat was tender and lightly fragranced with lemon and thyme. But I confess, the duck itself, though delicious, was a bit sad looking. When I took it out of the packaging, it looked a little um, flat and anaemic and unfortunately was lacking in meat. In fact it was a little difficult to carve off the bone so be sure to choose a healthy bird that is plump and beefy looking for yourself.

Because of the richness of the meat, a simple vegetable side dish such as these fried brussel sprouts is perfect. I know I know, brussel sprouts are universally hated, especially by children but that’s only because you never had them quite like this. As in, not over-boiled, tasteless and bitter. These babies were fried with speck. And duck fat. Surely that warrants them a second chance? As for the sauce, the sweet and slightly tangy cherry and port number is fabulous. Or for a more fragrant (and Christmassy) alternative, try out this Mulled Wine Cherry Sauce.

There is less than 3 weeks left to go till the big day so what are you waiting for? Get quacking!

Christmas Roast Duck with Port and Cherry Sauce and Fried Brussel Sprouts
Serves 4
  1. 1.50-2kg whole duck
  2. 1/2 onion
  3. 4 fat cloves of garlic
  4. 1 wedge of lemon
  5. Few sprigs of thyme
  1. 2 Tbl maltose syrup
  2. 3 Tbl honey
  3. 150ml port
  4. 2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
  5. A splash each of soy sauce and worcestershire
Fried Brussel Sprouts with Speck
  1. 2 Tbl of duck fat
  2. 100g speck, sliced into 1cm batons
  3. 500g brussel sprouts
Port and Cherry Sauce
  1. 1 Tbl of duck fat
  2. 3 shallots, finely diced
  3. 200ml port
  4. 200g of drained morello cherries (or if in season, 250g of fresh cherries, pitted and halved)
  5. 300ml chicken stock
  6. 2 Tbl of cherry jam (or plum jam)
  1. Preheat oven to 220°C and lightly grease the rack over a deep roasting tray.
  2. Prepare your duck by pulling out any innards and rinsing the cavity. Remove any stray feathers and snip off excess fat at the rear of the duck. Dry the inside and outside of the duck with paper towels.
  3. With a sharp knife, score the skin in a criss cross pattern (be careful not to pierce the meat under the layers of skin and fat). Cover the little wing and drumstick tips with a bit of foil (mine started to burn early on so I recommend this step).
  4. Rub sea salt and black pepper liberally over the skin and inside the cavity. Stuff the cavity with the onion, garlic, lemon and thyme and set aside while you prepare your glaze.
  5. Hello boys!

  6. To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until lightly thickened.
  7. Grab a pastry brush and paint a light coating of glaze all over the bird. Place the duck on the roasting rack, breast side up, and shove it in the oven.
  8. After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 170°C and cook for a further 1.5 to 2 hrs or until duck is cooked and tender (juices would run clear if you pierced the thickest meatiest part of the leg). Every 20 minutes or so, baste the duck with more luscious glaze and a bit of the fat. If you wish, poke the duck all over with a metal skewer to release more fat.
  9. Note: My oven is a little primitive so to make sure the underside of the duck was evenly cooked and browned, I flipped the bird (breast side down) after about 30 minutes, glazed it and cooked for about 30 minutes before flipping back (and again, more glaze!!). This might not be necessary if your oven isn’t crappy like mine.
  10. When duck is ready, remove from oven, cover with foil and rest for at least 30 minutes. Strain the accumulated duck fat into a bowl/container (reserve 3 tablespoons) and store in the fridge for another use (duck fat oven roasted potatoes OMG).
Fried Brussel Sprouts with Speck
  1. To make the sprouts, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the sprouts for 3 minutes until just cooked (but still crunchy). Drain, then tip into a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking then drain well again.
  2. Heat up a pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of duck fat. Fry the speck until browned, then toss in the brussel sprouts and fry for another 2-3 minutes or until cooked but slightly crisp. Season to taste.
Port and Cherry Sauce
  1. Heat up the duck fat in a saucepan over medium heat, then sauté the shallots until softened but uncoloured.
  2. Increase the heat to high, deglaze the pan with the port and cook until most of the port has evaporated. Add the cherries, stock and jam, bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened to a light syrup consistency. If you wish, you could add cornflour to thicken it further.
  1. Brussel sprouts and cherry sauce recipes adapted from Gordon Ramsay.
Citrus and Candy


{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Fizz Anderson December 26, 2013 at 07:47

Just wanted to say we cuffed this in is rented cottage over Chrissie in the Cotswolds and it was SO delicious especially as we are not natural cooks and found it easy to follow , the results = we’ll we impressed ourselves it help make Christmas Day special so a big thank-you! Will definitely do it again and soon! We used golden syrup instead if maltose syrup and it stemmed to work well


Anna December 23, 2013 at 12:55

Hi !
Your recipe looks delicious and I have decided to try it for christmas eve’s dinner!. Just one question: i cant find maltose syrup, can I use Maple syrup or agave instead?
Also, would you recommend stuffing for the duck?


Fran March 13, 2012 at 22:42

Hi Karen, I tried making this recipe a couple of weeks ago and is was amazing. I’ve been looking for a great duck recipe for ages and have tried quite a few but this one is a winner. I will be definitely making this one again. Thanks for sharing!


Citrus and Candy March 14, 2012 at 15:09

Hi Fran! You’re very welcome and thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know! :D


abby @ thingsforboys December 18, 2011 at 20:13

My husband has requested duck for dinner and this sounds perfect! How much of this could you do ahead? Also, would you be able to cook 2 ducks at once? There’ll be 8 of us for lunch.


Citrus and Candy December 25, 2011 at 01:16

Hi Abby, apologies for the late reply! If you happen to read this in time, if you have a big enough oven that distributes heat well then cooking 2 ducks at once shouldn’t be a problem because it’s slow-cooked at a sensible temperature. You could totally prepare the duck in advance (and give the flavours a chance to infuse more). Merry Christmas!


Lee December 14, 2011 at 14:46

Oh my.. looks so heavenly. I do want to try cooking this. Perhaps for Christmas.


Charissa December 14, 2011 at 10:19

Ooh, I wish you were cooking this part of our Christmas dinner. It’s beautiful! I don’t know why, but the sound of roast duck sounds so…romantic and old fashioned. I love it!


Becs @ Lay the table December 14, 2011 at 01:41

Mmm, I love duck, but it’s so darn expensive over here! A special treat from time to time though :)


Food Wine Sleep December 12, 2011 at 15:05

wow what a great idea frying brussel sprouts in duck fat – have never tried them this way but I know that potatoes roasted in duck fat are awesome so will have to give this a go too!!


emiglia December 10, 2011 at 21:56

I was already going to comment because of the gorgeous picture up top, but then you mentioned frying Brussels sprouts in duck fat, and I needed to bow down to your genius. Lovely… and perfect for a special occasion like Christmas! Glad to see you’ve gotten over your aversion to duck… I love it.


Ramen Raff December 10, 2011 at 18:56

Wow! I think I know what else I’ll be cooking this festive season! quack!


Amanda December 10, 2011 at 16:34

Duck is a definitely favourite of mine! A great idea for a Christmas lunch – I might have to give it a go this year! Thank you for sharing.

Oh… and I went along and voted for you! Good luck. Beautiful photo that Zucchini bread


gastronomous anonymous December 8, 2011 at 12:57

i love duck! photos are amazing!! will have to give it ago.. and i love brussel sprouts


Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul December 8, 2011 at 09:14

“nobody likes a dry bird…” how true! Gorgeous recipe Karen and dare I say “xmas-sy”. The brussel sprouts sound perfect this way…all we need is some Mariah in the background and Xmas is complete!


abby @ thingsforboys December 18, 2011 at 20:06

haha Peter…Mariah! So true. It’s the only day of the whole year that she is allowed in our house


Sara (Belly Rumbles) December 8, 2011 at 01:01

Hey there crazy duck lady of Cherrybrook. Umm the ‘hello boys’ got a major much needed laugh from me. Now for the other duckie pics, omg, how good does that look!


Jacq December 7, 2011 at 21:50

Were these the ducks near Cherrybrook Lakes? I used to go down there and feed them with leftover bread!


leaf (the indolent cook) December 7, 2011 at 21:25

Gosh, I would love it if I got served this for a Christmas meal! It looks so crazy good.


Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) December 7, 2011 at 20:17

Ahem, “nobody likes a dry bird” and then THAT photo…oh Karen, you outdo yourself!


Sneh | Cook Republic December 7, 2011 at 15:59

Oh man Karen! That looks divine. I would peel the skin and have that all to myself!


Vien @ We Dare Food December 7, 2011 at 13:33

That duck looks so moist and juicy! Gosh! Thank you for the recipe!! I’m sure everyone will rave about your duck during Christmas! :D


Simon @ the heart of food December 7, 2011 at 12:32

Ever since I’ve had brussel sprouts sauted, I’ve loved them. It’s a pity it gets such a bad wrap.

With food like that, Christmas over at your place must truly be a feast for the taste buds :)


Belinda December 7, 2011 at 12:27

That looks SO good and I am so pleased someone else had a self imposed ban on duck too! I grew up in Oyster Bay in Sydney and we used to have the ducks from the river come into our backyard to nest and play so we had wild pet ducks that would also have their eggs hatch under our trees and all the baby ducklings playing too. It’s only in the last year I have started to eat it! Might just need to try your recipe! As for Brussels sprouts, my girls actually request them as I cook them like you do or add them to stir fries as just another vegetable. We also like them raw :)


Natashia@foodonpaper December 7, 2011 at 11:35

Duck is something I have never cooked but always have always wanted to cook! Thank you for this, I’m seriously going to give it a go cos it looks amazing! Even the brussel sprouts look delicious :)

And got my vote!


chocolatesuze December 7, 2011 at 09:00

heh that last pic made me lol like the immature child that i am.


Sneh | Cook Republic December 7, 2011 at 15:59

crazy woman! .. uhh naughty child, lol.


Phuoc'n Delicious December 9, 2011 at 16:35

lol me too! Could have opened a little wider Karen :p

Awesome duck though! Mmmmm duck fat!


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