The Cottage Smallholder

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Sunday roast: Roast duck with piquant plum and apple sauce recipe

Roast duck

Roast duck

We were both working at the weekend so a trip to the new butcher in Fordham wasn’t an option. But we did wake on Sunday to home cured bacon slowly cold smoked for 36 hours over apple wood in our inglenook chimney. Our sitting room is unheated at the moment so long, cold smoking is viable, Sometimes cutting back on the heating reaps real dividends!

But we had no joint for the Sunday roast.
“I’m happy to eat Spaghetti Bolognaise. We don’t need to roast a joint every Sunday.” Danny cut a forkful of bacon and topped it with a grilled tomato before he glanced up to see my reaction.

We have dropped the Friday night steaks but he knows that I would be beaten into a corner before I’d consider not having a Sunday roast. It’s a ritual, the blow out of the week. And as Danny usually cooks – it’s a night off from the rock face for me.

On the main weekly shopping trip I drifted down the supermarket shelves looking for something tempting. I found a plump duck, on offer and much cheaper than their free range chicken ‘cousins’. A duck has far less meat than a chicken so our duck wasn’t a real economy. But I was keen to roast the duck stuffed with plums since reading Anna’s comment on our Duck with a fresh Plum Sauce recipe. I also love eating duck, every now and then.

Danny eyes lit up when I revealed the duck in my basket and he was even more smiley when I told him that I wanted to cook.

Yesterday I discovered how to roast a duck with crispy skin. There seems to be four pointers:

  • Air dry your duck for 24 hours (too late. But will try next time)
  • Scald the duck skin with boiling water
  • Prick the duck all over with a pointed fork (I used our carving fork)
  • Hang the duck in the oven to roast or put it in a roasting rack (we have a rack and our oven isn’t big enough to hang a bird bigger than a quail)

But what about keeping the flesh succulent? I reckon that there’s a fifth pointer. Stuff your duck to capacity with fruit. It could be plums, prunes, apricots or apples. Mango or pineapple would be good too. At the end of roasting these fruit can be whizzed into a sauce with seconds with a stick blender. They will match your roast well. The duck is infused with the fruit and the fruit is infused with the meat juices and flavours. It’s a two way street.

We got crispy skin and succulent flesh. I used Victoria plums from the freezer. Placed in a mini Bain Marie for five minutes to defrost. I sealed the vent with a medium cooking apple fresh from the garden. Simple, easy good food.

Roast duck with piquant plum and apple sauce recipe

Ingredients for roasting:

  • 1 duck, 2-3 kilos (4-6 lbs)
  • Plums to fill the cavity (we used eight Victoria plums unfrozen from the freezer)
  • 1 medium cooking apple (Bramleys are best)
  • Lashings of black pepper
  • 0.5 tsp of soy sauce

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • The fruit from the cavity of the bird
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • 0.5 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of water (white wine would be good as an alternative).


Preheat your oven to 200c (180c fan)

  1. Scald your duck with boiling water and dry with a clean towel or paper towel.
  2. Fill the cavity with plums. Finish off with a cooking apple at the vent. Secure the skin with a cocktail stick so that all cavity ingredients are contained.
  3. Roast for 1.75 to 2 hours (middle of the oven). Baste occasionally. Remove the duck to a warm place to relax for twenty minutes while you cook your vegetables.
  4. Scrape out the fruit from the cavity and pulverise using a stick blender (or pass through a sieve) . Add the soy sauce and water/white wine and put in a warm place.

We devoured this with potatoes roasted in duck fat, Savoy cabbage and fresh local carrots. Perfect.

And as the giblets simmered in the slow cooker we tossed in our bones after the meal. Danny is planning duck soup (Marx Brothers) with the stock and leftovers.

  Leave a reply


  1. We had roast duck on Sunday, stuffed with plums and a pear (all sliced), which made a lovely sauce. It is one of our favourites and we stocked up on discounted offers from one of the supermarkets. I think it was the last one of three that we had hidden in our freezer.

    I like Joanna’s suggestion of slow roast duck for pancakes – must try that next time. And Kate’s recipe for braised jointed duck has me watering at the mouth. Another experiment bookmarked. Excellent suggestions all. Thank you.

  2. How’s that for coincidence. My wife bought a duck on Thursday – and a savoy!

    I’m looking for recipes and found this – we even have some plums in the fridge. If they’re no good, I’m wondering whether to use some of this summer’s plum jam as the basis of the sauce.

    We have some clementines – perhaps we should do “mandarin” duck instead!

  3. Duck roasted in this way is absolutely wonderful. I too would and could not consider a Sunday without a roast, it provides so much meat for the days following that I think it good value for money. We’ve discovered that slow-roasted lamb shanks make a great Sunday meal, with enough left over for a couple of sandwiches and some lamb, mint and potato pasties too.

  4. I rarely eat duck. I’m not sure why as I like it and will often choose it at a Chinese restaurant (back in the days when I could afford to go out and eat in Chinese restaurants – or any restaurants for that matter). However, the best duck I ever had was, in fact, from a tin! It was Confit de Canard, probably bought in Mauritius where food is plentiful, and taken back to Seychelles where food isn’t plentiful and cooked for a dinner to which the Bishop was invited. The same Bishop who just a few days later shared with us a gift of seabirds eggs.

  5. Thanks Joanna.

  6. kate (uk)

    If you prick the duck all over so the fat runs out as it cooks and rub salt and cornflour into the skin before cooking, it makes it lovely and crispy.
    I am a convert to braising duck- makes it really succulent and delicious and means the oven doesn’t get so messy AND it isn’t so fatty! Joint the bird, fry the pieces to brown the outside. Put to one side, fry coarsely chopped shallots in the fat left over, remove from the fat and put into a lidded roasting pan with other chopped root veg of your choice.You can roast potatoes in the left over fat. Use either fruit juice or red wine and pour over the chopped veg in the roasting dish, season, add the duck pieces and the onion, putting the duck skin side down right in amongst the veg and in the juice/wine ( apple and mango works a treat).Cover and give it 40 mins at 200/175 for fan oven. Take the dish out,lift the duck pieces out and turn them over, replace them so they are still sitting in the juices, but so that the skin is above the gravy level so it will crisp up a bit. Cook covered for another 40 minutes, uncover for 10 minutes at the end to crisp the skin.Succulent as anything and the fruity/wine gravy is lovely. Turnips are nice in wine, swede lovely in apple and mango juice…experiment and enjoy- duck legs half price in Waitrose this week, perfect for braising.

  7. I am not a fan of duck. Dont all shoot me a look! I know it is mega expensive. I just find it fatty or something. Even with the pancakes etc. Venison, yeah now you are talking.

  8. I have a very slow-roasted duck that I do (five hours in a v low oven) which doesn’t need airing or basting, and which is good with Chinese pancakes. This sounds just as delicious and almost as easy. (Casalba, you just hang the bird up in a cool spot, using a butcher’s hook).

    I’m also intrigued by your use of the slow cooker for making stock


  9. This sounds delicious. Can I ask how exactly you ‘air dry’ a duck? Sorry to be dumb.

    I’d also like to know how you make your stock in the slow cooker. I always make stock for soup from the bones of a roast, but usually in a saucepan with water and veg and then simmer.

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