If you're looking for a special or festive meal, this roast duck is definitely one to add to your list. The duck itself gets lovely crispy skin and the vegetables take on all the wonderful flavors cooking in the drippings below. A little indulgent but so good!
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For the last few years, we've opted for duck or goose for our Christmas meal. Having turkey at Thanksgiving only a month before, we're not such huge fans to repeat it that soon.
Plus, we're generally only the four of us (with two being young kids) so even with a small turkey, that's a few too many leftovers for me.
Duck is definitely one of our favorites by far, and we've experimented over the years on how to cook the vegetables on the side. Duck fat fries are, after all, some of the best, so it seemed only right to make use of all the dripping fat while the duck cooks.
After a bit of practice, I think I've got the method perfected, if I do say so myself. Basically, I roast the duck, turning it now and then, broadly following the Epicurious roast duck recipe, then add big chunks of vegetables into the fat below at points to suit their cooking time.
Tips for roasting vegetables under the duck
The two main things I have picked up with my different attempts are how long to give the different vegetables to cook, and what size the pieces should be.
I'd recommend you make the vegetables big chunks, as they will partly sit in the fat. This means more of the outside crisps up, which is delicious, but you want to get a good contrast with the soft inside. Bigger pieces are also easier to turn.
Potatoes and carrots take a bit longer so they go in first, then the parsnips a bit later. I found giving the potatoes and carrots around an hour, then the parsnips around 30 minutes worked well. As you add the parsnip is a good time to turn the other vegetables, too.
You can use other root vegetables as well as you have/prefer. Just consider whether they are quicker cooks or not when deciding when to add.
Squash would be quicker so later, for example, beets would be longer so earlier. But some vegetables may get too soft (such as sweet potato), so I'd suggest firmer veg are best.
Don't think the vegetables are burnt when you look at the outside - this is just because they've cooked in the duck fat. It both gives a wonderful flavor and really crisps up the outside of the potatoes in particular. The inside, meanwhile, is soft and tender.
What else should you serve with roast duck and vegetables?
One of the great things about this dish is the vegetables are cooked in the same dish as the duck itself, so to a point that's all you need. However since this is kind of an indulgent meal, why not add a little more?!
We had this with our favorite rutabaga, date and bacon stuffing and some cranberry sauce. The sauce is a great pairing with roast duck, not just turkey. While duck is far from as dry, the breast meat can sometimes benefit from a little sauce, plus it tastes great anyway.
Given the richness of the meat and vegetables, a salad wold also be great alongside to balance things out. Something simple, like my spinach pomegranate salad would be perfect (plus the citrus dressing would go well with the duck).
There's no getting away from the fact this roast duck and vegetables is a rich and indulgent meal, but it's most definitely delicious. It takes a little time, but is easy to make and so worth making for a special occasion.
Looking for more delicious roasts? Try these:
- Garlic herb roasted chicken
- Roast lamb with garlic and rosemary
- Porchetta (Italian roast pork)
- Plus get more Holiday recipes and mains recipes in the archives.
Roast duck and vegetables
- 1 whole duck (Long Island/Pekin duck size approx 5-6lb/2.25-2.75kg)
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 teaspoon salt approx
- 1 teaspoon pepper approx
- 4 potatoes (medium)
- 2 carrots (medium)
- 1 parsnip or more if small
- Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. Set the racks so that you have enough space in the middle of the oven for your roasting pan with a rack to sit in with the duck on top.
- Clean out the duck completely and remove any excess far around the neck etc. Prick the skin all over with a fork (this helps the fat to drain as it cooks and makes the skin more crisp).
- Pour the boiling water over the duck, some on each side, with the duck sitting in the rack over a roasting pan. It will cause the skin to change color slightly and tighten up - this too helps it crisp. Pour any water held in the cavity into the pan and pat the duck dry all over. Don't throw away the water in the pan - leave it to steam the duck as it cooks initially.
- Rub salt and pepper all over the duck's skin, particularly the breast.
- Turn the duck breast side up, then roast in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes (this isn't the full cook, just when you turn).
- After the first 45min, put a wooden spoon into the neck space (the handle) and another, the other way round, inside the main cavity and carefully drain out the cavity into the baking pan. Turn the duck over to be back up then put back in the oven.
- As the duck is cooking, peel and cut the potatoes and carrots into large chunks. After the duck has cooked around 20-30 minutes on the second side, carefully add the potatoes and carrots into the fat drippings below the rack. Spoon a little of the fat over the top of the vegetables then return the pan to the oven.
- Once the duck has been in for 45 minutes on the second side (so 1 ½ hours cooking), remove from the oven and turn again back to breast side up. Return to the oven for a final 45 minutes (giving 2 ¼ hours total).
- Peel the parsnip and cut into large chunks. Around 30 minutes before the end of cooking (so once it has been in for 15 mins after the last turn), carefully turn the potatoes and carrots in the bottom of the pan and add the parsnips. Return to the oven for the remaining 30 minutes, then take out of the oven. Remove the vegetables and keep warm while the duck rests around 5-10 minutes before you carve it.
- Remove the vegetables, draining them as you do, and keep warm. Drain any liquid from the inside of the duck and transfer it to a cutting board to rest around 5-10 minutes before you carve it.
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