Whole Muscovy Duck Braised and Crisp-fried with Morello cherry and Kirsch Jus

11:30 am on 20 October 2014



  • 2 whole Muscovy ducks
  • 1 large bunch curly parsley
  • 2 bunches thyme
  • 5 litres stock (preferably duck stock, although chicken will do)

Cherry sauce

  • duck cooking stock (see above)
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150g cherries in kirsch, or 100g pitted cherries and 100ml kirsch


For the duck

The day before serving, preheat oven to 150°C.

Rinse the duck under cold running water and pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Put half the bunch of curly parsley along with 1 bunch of thyme into each duck’s body cavity. Pull the skin together and ‘sew’ up with a skewer to hold in the herbs.

Place the ducks in a tray with sides high enough to hold the stock. The stock should just about cover the ducks. Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan and pour over the ducks. Cook in the oven, uncovered, for 1½ hours.

After 1½ hours, turn the ducks over and cook for a further 1½ hours.

Once this is done, let them cool in the stock for 45 minutes. Pull out the skewers and drain the liquid inside the ducks back into the pan. Gently lift them out onto a tray, being very careful not to damage or break the skin. Strain the cooking stock into a high-sided container and refrigerate both stock and ducks until the next day.

The next day, with a pair of kitchen scissors, cut duck from the tail to the neck through the breast bone to open it out like a book. Turn the duck over and cut out the back bone from the tail to the neck on both sides. Repeat with the other duck.

Pull out the breast cartilage and any other bones you want. Be careful not to break the skin, as this is holding it all together. You will end up with 4 boned halves of duck. Put these aside.

For the sauce

Spoon off all of the duck fat from the cooking stock and set aside.

In a saucepan, bring the stock to the boil and add the thyme and the bay leaf. Reduce over a medium heat until you have roughly 300–400ml of concentrated stock, skimming off the froth and fat as you go. Strain into a smaller pan.
Add the cherries and kirsch and keep warm.

To serve

Put the reserved duck fat into a large fry pan to 3cm deep. Add some canola or sunflower oil if you do not have enough. Heat until it starts to smoke lightly.

Season the duck and slowly place in the hot fat, skin-side down (you can do this in batches). The fat will start to spit; you can put a lid on it but be careful. Fry until you start to see the edges of the duck go golden and crispy. Lift it out and place on absorbent kitchen paper to drain off the excess fat.

If you are cooking the duck in batches, place the cooked portions in a low-temperature oven until ready to serve. Also, if cooking in batches you will need to strain the hot duck fat between batches into a metal container, then pour it back into your pan before repeating the process.

Heat up the cherry sauce. Cut the duck into quarters, place on a platter or individual plates and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately. This dish goes well with a crisp, fresh salad.

Serves 8
Wine match: Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir or Prima Donna Pinot Noir


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