Spatchcock duck is an easy way to cook a whole duck so that the breast stays succulent and the legs are tender and juicy.
If you have never spatchcocked a duck or chicken before, there are step by step photos and instructions, so you can do this at home.
The duck is flavoured with orange and honey and can be cooked in the oven or on the grill or barbecue.
Perfect for fuss free entertaining, casual dining or a delicious family meal, once you have tried this method you will uses it again and again.
- ❤️ Why you will love this recipe
- 🥘 Ingredients
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 Instructions
- ⏲️ Roasting Time
- 🥗 Side Dishes
- 📖 Variations
- 🍣 Storage
- 🍱 Prepare in Advance
- 🤔 FAQs
- 📋 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Meat cooked on the bone is always so tasty and tender, however, a whole duck can be tricky beast to cook.
If the duck is roasted whole, the breast cooks easily but, by the time the breast is cooked, the legs are often nowhere nowhere near tender enough. The result is dry breast.
Or, you can cut the legs off and slow roast them separately, but it’s not economically good sense to run two ovens this way, especially in the current climate.
By spatchcocking the duck, the heat can circulate all the way around from the start of cooking and the breast isn’t exposed to a higher level of heat than the legs.
❤️ Why you will love this recipe
- Technique works on all birds and especially chicken.
- Breast and legs cook perfectly at the same time.
- Cook in the oven or on the barbecue.
- Elegant presentation for entertaining.
- Easy to portion and serve.
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- Duck – oven ready duck. The most available duck in the UK is a Gressingham duck. They are a cross between a Pekin duck and wild mallard. These birds are much larger than a mallard and the taste is milder but still delicious.
- Salt – cooking salt or kosher sal.
- Pepper – freshly ground black pepper.
- Honey – clear honey.
- Garlic – garlic cloves for flavour rather than powder.
- Orange – orange zest to flavour the duck and the remaining orange for a garnish if you like.
The recipe card with ingredient quantities and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of the post.
- Large oven tray with rack / trivet
- Poultry shears or heavy duty sharp knife
- Zester or grater
- Pastry brush
- Kitchen paper
Peel and finely mince the garlic.
Zest the orange and mix the zest with the garlic and honey.
Bring the duck to room temperature 30 minutes before you want to start cooking.
Remove any giblets and pat the duck dry with kitchen paper.
Lay the duck on a board, breast side down and with the neck furthest away from you.
Grab the tail end and use the poultry shears to start cutting the ribs as close to the backbone as possible.
💭 Top Tip
- If you are using a sharp knife it is easier to set the duck kneck down and let gravity help to cut as this is safer with the knife always moving away from you.
Repeat the cut on the other side of the backbone.
Trim off any excess skin and discard.
Turn the duck over with the breast uppermost and press down hard on the breastbone to flatten the duck completely.
💭 Top Tip
- Save the backbone and giblets for making stock for the gravy. Or, if you are serving the spatchcock duck with salad, freeze the bones and giblets for another time.
Place the duck on a trivet and use a knife or carving fork to poke holes in the skin all over.
Pour over boiling water from a kettle and leave for a few minutes. This will encourage all of the fat to drain away and leave crispy skin.
Drain off the water and pat the duck dry with kitchen paper.
Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the skin.
⏲️ Roasting Time
Preheat the oven to 160 C / 310 F / 140 FAN / Gas 2.5.
Roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Remove the duck from the oven and increase the heat to 180 C / 350 F / 160 FAN / Gas 4.
Use the pastry brush to spread the honey mixture over the duck.
Return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
💭 Top Tip
- The duck is ready when a skewer or fork inserted into the thickest part of the thigh has no blood in the juices.
- More importantly, the meat needs to feel very tender, so the leg should feel really loose. If it has resistance then it needs to cook for longer.
- If you want a really crispy skin, place under a preheated grill or broiler for a few minutes, but watch that it doesn’t burn.
Transfer the duck to a serving plate and let it rest under foil in a warm place for 20 minutes before carving.
Slice off the legs and remove the whole breast.
Cut the breast into slices across. This makes sure that everyone gets a bit of skin as well as the breast.
🥗 Side Dishes
Spatchcock duck is delicious in the summer with salads like these.
- Courgette Salad
- Cucumber Salad
- Tomato and Onion
- Fennel and Pear with Blue Cheese
- Mushroom Salad
- Asian Coleslaw
- Edamame Broccoli and Asparagus Salad
- Cherry Tomato and Feta Salad
- Tarragon Potato Salad
Or, serve it as a roast with some of these side dish ideas.
- Roasted Long Stem Broccoli
- Fried Cabbage with Bacon
- Cavolo Nero Kale
- Honey Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
- Easy Roast Potatoes
- Honey Roasted Swede
- Roast Savoy Cabbage
- Whole Baked Cauliflower Cheese
- Minted Mushy Peas
- Leeks in White Sauce
- Pan Haggerty
- Roast Potatoes
Try some of these flavour variations.
- Chinese – rub a tablespoon of five spice powder into the skin with the salt and pepper.
- Citrus – replace the orange zest with lemon, lime or grapefruit.
- Fruity – serve the spatchock duck with griddled or grilled pineapple slices, plums or peaches.
- Herby – flavour the duck with tarragon, rosemary or sage.
- Refrigerator – cool cover and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Leftovers are perfect in a rice dish or a curry.
- Freezer – divide duck into pices and place in airtight container. Freeze for up to a month.
- To reheat – Add directly to soups, stir fries or curries in a saucepan or slow cooker.
🍱 Prepare in Advance
- Spatchcock the duck and leave covered in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
More duck dishes to try
- Confit Duck with Redcurrant Sauce
- Crispy duck with Five Spice
- Game Terrine
- Duck with Orange Sauce
- Massaman Duck Curry
- Duck Terrine
- Confit Duck Salad
- Duck Donburi
- Leftover Duck Soup
More game recipes
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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