A Case for Christmas Duck

Here is a whole post devoted to why you should roast a duck this Christmas. Nothing against turkey or brisket or ham – all of the large celebratory meats are welcome at the holidays. But this year we are keeping things tight; no big gatherings, the leaf will stay stowed in the dining room table – so why not try a littler critter for your roast beast?

A whole frozen duck usually clocks in at around five or six pounds so it can easily feed two people. And it is a decadent full fat option. More festive than a chicken, and with a longer cooking time than you might expect. We want long cooking times on Christmas Day. We want the house filled with delicious slow roasting smells while the Spotify playlists jingle in the background.

Speaking of which, here are some wonderful holiday playlists to check out:

Xmas 2020 – Leon Lewis, the Ronettes, Springsteen

The Big, Weird Christmas Mix – Weezer, Dropkick Murphys, KT Tunstall, Pentatonix

Country Christmas – Dolly & Miley, Rascal Flatts, Kacey Musgraves

Canadian Christmas – Molly Johnson, Serena Ryder, Great Lake Swimmers, Sloan


Roasting a duck is simple. Well, actually, not really. It needs to be scored carefully, and turned a number of times during roasting, and even, if you care to try this Cook’s Illustrated method, par cooked in water (!?). But you don’t have to brine it! That’s the simple part. Anyway, what is the point of the holidays if it doesn’t include making some kind of grand gesture in the kitchen?



Duck’s edible portion (meat and skin) contains about 28 percent fat, while the edible portion of a chicken contains between 2.5 and 8 percent fat. – Cook’s Illustrated

Fat is good. We want fat! But can we handle this fat? Proper instruction is key to avoid a flabby finished product, and to ensure crispness, rendered fat and succulent meat. Here are a few recipe suggestions to instruct, intrigue and inspire.

Jacques Pépin’s Duck à l’Orange is ideal. Multiple manipulations of the duck during the roasting process ensures you don’t get so bored watching The Happiest Season that you find yourself considering writing an opinion piece about it for your blog. Leave that to the pros. Pépin is French so he calls for leeks in the mirepoix. You don’t need leeks, onions will do. But you do need currant jelly for the sauce.


Could be a touch crispier Martha, don’t you think?


Now Martha’s roast duck recipe sounds good, but the image is not awe inspiring. It looks a little blah if you ask me. But, she doesn’t expect you to go out and buy currant jelly at least, her sauce is made with orange marmalade, which you probably have in the fridge already.


OMG Ludo!

If you do want to go out shopping, (and who doesn’t during lockdown? Shopping IRL instead of online is one of the greatest joys of 2020, given that we’ve been deprived of it during our most frenzied shopping season!) take a look at Ludo Lefebvre’s recipe. He uses orange blossom water, buckwheat honey and ras al hanout in his glorious version. Canadian Living keeps it simple with orange juice and any old orange-flavoured liqueur you’ve got kicking around. And the Times secret ingredient? To ensure beautiful bronze skin…simply soya sauce, brushed on during the many flips required as the duck roasts.

With all of those versions to consider, and the idea of a whole new holiday main course, we hope you feel uplifted and inspired, on the wings of a snow white duck say?



Whatever you cook, have a holly jolly Christmas dinner and remember that this isn’t the most joyous season for a lot of people this year. Donate to food banks, relief efforts and toy and coat drives if you can.

Whole Muscovy ducks are available frozen at the butcher counter. 

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