Olive Magazine
Roasted Duck Recipe

Duck cooked like a pig

Published: October 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
  • Easy
  • Serves 4

This slow-cooked duck is meltingly tender and full of flavour from the Italian fennel and pancetta. It takes a while in the oven but the prep is so easy and you can put your feet up while it cooks.



  • a big handful/2 bulbs/1 tbsp of seeds wild fennel or fennel bulbs or fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 12 leaves sage
  • 2 sprigs, plus another optional 2 for basting rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 whole duck
  • 150g pancetta or prosciutto or salt pork, diced
  • 1 small glass red wine


  • STEP 1

    Chop the fennel, garlic, sage, rosemary and bay. If your duck came with its gizzard, heart and liver, chop this too and mix with the pancetta and the chopped herbs. Stuff the mixture into the duck and secure the cavity with wooden toothpicks. Season the duck with salt and pepper. This can be done a day ahead, or just before cooking.

  • STEP 2

    The duck would be best cooked on a spit, but this is not practical in my kitchen, and I’m guessing not in yours. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4, and roast the duck on a rack for 40 minutes until starting to brown, with a tray underneath to catch the fat.

  • STEP 3

    Reduce the temperature to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2, and cook for another 2-21/2 hours: the duck will be meltingly tender, effectively having stewed in its own skin. Baste it every 20 minutes throughout the cooking time with the red wine, perhaps mixed with some of the duck’s juices. My grandmother uses rosemary sprigs to do this, like a paintbrush. How much difference this makes, I cannot say, but brushes are elusive in the kitchen, whereas I always have rosemary in reach.


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