Pages Navigation Menu

How to Make – French Roast Duck

roast duck recipe

The celebratory atmosphere that marks the conclusion of another year spans all religions and cultures.  In much of the Western world, Christmas feasts are times of decadent indulgence, of carefree conviviality over opulent plates.  Growing up in Canada, the Christmas ham and turkey reigned supreme at most dinner tables, although I must admit I am not a fan of the gamey big bird – no matter how dressed up and fancy it is.  At our Chinese Canadian household, we often celebrated with more succulent birdies, such as chicken or duck.  Hence, I was delighted to discover that my French in-laws also had a preference towards smaller birds for their holidays feasts.  Traditionally, the French capon (a large, castrated rooster) adorn the feast table, although the roast duck has also become popular in French households.

We recently visited the French in-laws in quaint little Le Mans, and I learned this very simple, yet deliciously classic roast duck recipe from my mother-in-law in her cozy kitchen.  The MIL is the type of French Madame who is always immaculately dressed, with perfect red manicure, tailored blouse and high heels, even when cooking in the kitchen.  Hence, I was enamoured to see her picking fresh herbs from the garden, and then rolling up the sleeves of her meticulous ensemble to execute a flawless feast without even a flash of bewilderment.

Here’s the in-laws recipe for effortless, yet mouthwateringly succulent roast duck.  Happy Holidays & Bon Appetit :)

What you’ll need:

  • a handful of chives
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of tarragon
  • a handful of lemon thyme
  • 1 large fat duck
  • a block of good French butter
  • 1 cup veal stock (or beef stock)
  • salt & pepper

Prep Time:  5 minutes

Cook Time:  2 hours

Pre-heat the oven to 200 celsius 

Get your herbs ready.  The In-laws have a beautiful little garden brimming with all sorts of aromatics, so instead of the grocery store, we nipped outdoors to snip handfuls of fragrant fresh herbs.  The fluffy purple balls of chive blossoms and the zesty perfume of lemon thyme were particularly mesmerising.

Herb garden

The French Kitchen – I adore all these rosy copper pots!

French Kitchen

Make sure to pick a plump fat duck for your feast!  Remember – fat equals flavour!  Rub the duck all over with coarse salt and pepper, and layer some good French butter over top.  Remember – this is decadent feasting, so be liberal with your indulgences!

Scatter herbs around the duck, and also inside and underneath the feathered beast.

Once the oven reaches 200 celsius, slide the duck in (breast-side up) and cook for 20 minutes, or until the butter has melted and glossed the duck in a glistening gold sheen.

Lower the oven temperature to 180 celsius and pour in 1 cup of veal stock.  Oven roast for 1.5 hours, taking care to occasionally baste the bird with the stock.

roast duck recipe

Now, isn’t this a glorious bird?

roast duck recipe

roast French duck recipe

roast duck recipe

Serve with duck fat potatoes, flageolet beans and tender greens…oh yes, and a good bottle of Bordeaux!  Happy Holidays & Bon Appetit!

roast French duck recipe





  1. That’s a nice one, Celia ! :-)
    Hope to have the opportunity to see you both in HK again!

  2. Just wondering Was this done in a Dutch oven? And did you trim any the fat prior to putting it in the pan? I’m looking to roast a duck in my Dutch oven and just wondering if I can use this procedure? Thanks for any advice you can give

    • Hi Dalicia, apologies for the late reply. I cooked the duck in a regular roasting pan with no lid. I didn’t trim the fat as fat always adds more flavour. Instead, a lot of the fat was rendered out during the roasting process. Hope you end up enjoying a gorgeously succulent roast duck!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>