Roasting a duck might be easier than roasting a chicken; with a generous layer of fat, the meat stays moist and flavorful. And cooked alongside grapes that grow sweeter with roasting, onions that caramelize in the glorious duck fat, and day-old bread that offers crispy and tender bits, it makes for a festive meal that requires little hands-on effort.

Be sure to hand-tear the bread into irregular pieces; the nooks and crannies will better catch and absorb all the flavorful duck drippings than a clean cut would. Depending on how much fat the duck has, you can wind up with up to 3/4 cup of rendered duck fat. Save it for roasting vegetables, frying eggs or trying your hand at duck confit.

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Ingredients

  • One (5-pound) whole Pekin duck
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 ounces baby potatoes, halved if large
  • 5 to 6 cups day-old bread (about 8 ounces) from a rustic loaf (not sourdough), hand-torn into 1-inch chunks
  • One (8-ounce) sweet onion, such as Vidalia, peeled, halved and sliced about 1/3-inch thick
  • 8 ounces red grapes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, or more as needed
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock, or more as needed
  • 1 pint fresh figs (approximately 8 ounces), halved
  • 1/3 cup orange marmalade, such as Bonne Maman
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder (see NOTE)

Step 1

Prepare the duck: The day before you plan to roast the duck, pat it dry with paper towels. Using a sharp paring knife, cut away fatty deposits and excess skin around the neck area and just inside the bird’s cavity. Using the sharp point of the knife, prick the duck skin all over except for the drumsticks. Score the skin of the breast in a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to expose the flesh, then generously season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours and up to 3 days; this will help season the bird, dry out the skin and help to render crispy skin once cooked.

Step 2

Make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the marmalade, soy sauce, ginger, sriracha and five-spice powder. Bring the glaze to a bare simmer, then remove from the heat.

Step 3

Roast the duck: When ready to cook, place the duck breast side down on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Let it come to room temperature while you preheat the oven.

Position a baking rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.


Step 4

Add the water to the baking sheet and transfer it to the oven; the water will help the fat render without splattering. Roast undisturbed for about 35 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a heatproof surface, and gently and carefully tilt the duck over a medium bowl to drain the juices that have accumulated inside the cavity. Place the duck on a cutting board, then drain the rendered fat into a heatproof jar.

Step 5

Add the potatoes to the baking sheet and shake the pan around to coat the potatoes in the residual fat. Place the bread, onion and grapes in a large bowl, drizzle with 2 tablespoons reserved duck fat and toss to coat. Return the duck to the baking sheet, breast side up, and generously brush the duck with the glaze. Transfer the bread mixture to the baking sheet and scatter it around the duck, placing some bread pieces under the duck. Pour the wine over everything but the duck, lightly season with salt and pepper and return the baking sheet to the oven.


Step 6

Roast for 10 minutes, then transfer the baking sheet to a heatproof surface. Generously glaze the duck, then pour the stock over everything but the bird. Return to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes. Generously glaze the duck once more and roast for another 10 minutes.

Step 7

Transfer the baking sheet to a heatproof surface and insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast; it should register 155 degrees. Carefully tilt the duck over a medium bowl to drain any accumulated juices inside the cavity, then transfer to a cutting board and let it rest while you finish cooking everything else on the pan. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.


Step 8

Add the figs to the baking sheet and return it to the oven. Roast for another 10 minutes — at this point the potatoes should be cooked through, the grapes have burst in places and softened, and onions caramelized. Turn the oven off and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes, so the figs continue to soften.

Spoon the bread mixture onto plates, carve the duck and serve warm, with extra glaze, if you like.

NOTE: To make your own five-spice powder, in a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast 2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns and 3 whole star anise, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and process until very finely ground. Spoon the mixture into a small fine-mesh sieve with larger holes, sift the ingredients through, discarding any remaining unground bits. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (preferably Chinese) and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves until combined. Transfer to a small glass jar. It is ready to use, and can store in a dark, cool place for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Information

(Based on 4 servings)

Calories: 805; Total Fat: 37 g; Saturated Fat: 13 g; Cholesterol: 109 mg; Sodium: 633 mg; Carbohydrates: 80 g; Dietary Fiber: 5 g; Sugar: 30 g; Protein: 33 g.


Recipe from Olga Massov.

Tested by Olga Massov; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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