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Roast Duck with Apple Stuffing and Cider Gravy Recipe

A new twist on a classic fall duck dish.

Roast Duck with Apple Stuffing and Cider Gravy Recipe

This unique recipe encourages you to use most of the duck. (Photo By: Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley)

Several years ago, I found an Irish pub cookbook in the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble. While its cover bore no author, this collection of classic Irish recipes has become one of my most cherished cookbooks. The dishes tend to be seasonal, and they highlight local ingredients—the kind of food you’d expect out of a decent pub that cares about its vittles just as much as its drink. Also, they’re the kind of recipes that work well with wild game.

One recipe that stood out to me was goose with apple stuffing. In Ireland, Scotland, and England, it was tradition to eat a young goose on Michaelmas Day (Sept. 29), also known as the Feast of Michael and All Angels. This medieval holiday falls near the equinox, when autumn begins and the days begin to shorten. Michaelmas festivities call upon the archangel St. Michael for protection during the darker, colder days ahead.

Michaelmas also coincides with the apple harvest, a fruit that coincidentally pairs well with waterfowl. In addition to hunting, I also look forward to picking local apples in the fall, among so many other wonderful things that happen that time of year. This is a great recipe for celebrating both the wild and farmed harvest seasons.

I’ve modified the original goose recipe and adapted it here for wild duck—a much smaller specimen than a large farm-raised goose. I’d choose a fat mallard for this recipe, as it could feed two people and offers a cavity large enough to stuff. Multiply the recipe as needed for more servings. Of course, it also is possible to prepare this recipe with a whole wild goose—you’ll have to multiply the stuffing amount and increase roasting time; use a probe thermometer in the thigh and cook the bird to your liking.

This apple stuffing recipe is unique because it has no bread in it. Distinctly Irish, the main starch is potato. The stuffing also includes duck liver and heart, thus encouraging you to use more of the animal. If you know how to clean the gizzards, you could also throw them into the stuffing as well.

Serves: 1-2 portions
Prep time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

Main Ingredients:

  • 1 large duck, plucked
  • 1 tablespoon of duck fat, plus extra
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Stuffing Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of duck fat
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 small russet potato
  • ¾ cup diced onion
  • 1 slice of bacon, minced
  • 3 sage leaves, minced
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
  • ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt, plus extra
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Liver and heart of 1 duck
  • 1 teaspoon of parsley, minced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon

Cider Gravy Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of duck drippings, or fat
  • 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • ¾-1 cup of game/chicken stock, heated
  • 1 cup apple cider, heated
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons of sugar

Roast duck with apple stuffing and cider gravy recipe
This sweet and savory roast duck recipe will have you looking forward to picking apples and plucking ducks this fall. (Photo By: Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley)

Directions for Stuffing:

  1. Peel and cut apple and potato into ½-inch dices.
  2. In a medium saucepan, render bacon over medium-low heat.
  3. Add onion, a pinch of salt and cook until softened.
  4. Add a tablespoon of duck fat, diced potato, diced apple, minced sage, thyme, and freshly cracked pepper.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, for apples to soften.
  6. Mince duck liver and heart and add it to the pan, along with ¼ teaspoon of salt, minced parsley and lemon zest.
  7. Cook for 5 minutes and take off heat. Season to taste. Spread onto a plate and allow to cool completely.

Directions for Duck:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pat duck dry with paper towels and season generously with salt, including inside the cavity.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil or duck fat in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Quickly sear breasts and sides for a golden color.
  5. Take duck off heat and stuff with the cooled apple-potato stuffing, reserving the rest.
  6. Roast duck breast side up in a 400-degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the temperature in the breast area reaches 135-137 degrees.
  7. Remove duck from oven, loosely tent with foil and allow to rest. Look for a finishing temperature of about 145 degrees.
  8. Once rested, break down duck to desired size pieces.
  9. Serve with reheated apple stuffing on the side with cider gravy.

Directions for Cider Gravy:

  1. Transfer the grease/drippings from the duck to a small non-reactive saucepan. You should end up with about 2 tablespoons of drippings, and if not, supplement with extra duck fat.
  2. Heat the fat over medium heat and whisk in flour; cook it for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Slowly and gradually whisk in heated cider, allowing the mixture to thicken back up.
  4. Slowly whisk in hot stock. Simmer to thicken.
  5. Season to taste with salt and sugar.
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