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The first time I could have roasted a duck was back in 1967. Every time I thought of roasting a duck I could see mine floating at the bottom of the ravine that we fell into with our brand new Volkswagen. But November 4th of that year was a good day for survival. We drove from Prince Rupert to Terrace, went to a restaurant where I was served a plate of liver swimming in blood, but even that did not deter us from having a good time. Before we drove home, we went to the Co-Op and spent 24 dollars on groceries. It was a lot of money back then; we bought all the staples and we even got a duck. Then half way to Rupert we hit black ice and went down a deep ravine. Lucky for us we slid to the right and not to the left. To our left roared the fast flowing Skeena River. Not many survive falling into the Skeena.

But we were lucky and we landed in the ravine knee deep in cold water. We scrambled out, climbed up the hill and two men picked us up and drove us home. I was in shock. It took me several months not to hyperventilate in a moving vehicle and ten more years before I got behind the wheel. The duck was left for the wildlife. My love and I are about to purchase a brand new car again [we had a few in 47 years] and I thought… it was time to get that duck thing out of the way. On Sunday I finally roasted my first duck.

I read up on roasting duck, too much fat, lots of smoke from the high temperatures, tough skin that doesn't really crisp up or goes soft by the next day. I thought really? Are there still force-fed ducks around? I don’t think so. And even my old Hungarian cookbooks presented roasting a duck as a simple task so who am I to believe? I went the Hungarian way of course.

The first thing was to thaw the duck. It would have taken days in the fridge, so I filled a large bowl with cold water and put the bird in it. It took 10 hours to thaw and in between the duck spent a night in the fridge, [not in water]. Finally it thawed out and I could remove the neck and the giblet bag from the cavity. I cut off the fatty flaps on both ends and scraped out the congealed blood and the other nasties from inside. I slid my duck into clean water to rinse off the bits that stuck to it. I must have used half a roll of paper towels, but I got it completely dry inside and out. Then I went all over the bird and plucked out the feather stubs and the leftover feathers. I dabbed the duck with paper towel one more time and then poked the breast skin with a fork.

I sprinkled it with Chef’s Salt inside and out [you could use ordinary salt] and rubbed it with dried marjoram. Then I left the duck sitting for 3 hours on the counter.

I put a chopped onion, bell pepper, tomato and a couple of garlic cloves around it. I drizzled the top with olive oil and placed it in a preheated 325F oven. It slow roasted it for seven hours and—voilà! We had one delicious, crispy, succulent duck and 1 cup of clear duck fat. In conclusion,



1 young duck 
salt and pepper to taste [I used Chef’s Salt] 
1 Tbsp dry marjoram 
fresh parsley sprigs 
drizzle of olive oil 
1 onion, chopped 
1 bell pepper, chopped 
 1 tomato, chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, smashed 

• Unless you have access to fresh, roasting a duck will be a two day operation. Fully thaw the duck in a large bowl of cold water. This could take 10 hours or even longer. At a certain point you will have to transfer the duck to a tray, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for the night. 
• When the duck is fully thawed out, remove the neck and the giblet bag from the cavity. 
• Cut off the fatty flaps on both ends and scrape out the cavity. 
• Submerge the duck in a clean bowl of cold water to rinse it. 
• Dry the duck with paper towels. 
• Remove the leftover feathers and feather stubs. 
• Poke the breast skin with a fork. The skin is rubbery so you won’t poke the flesh. 
• Rub the duck with salt inside and out. 
• Rub it all over with dried marjoram. 
• Place the duck in a heatproof dish. 
• Let the duck rest for 3 to 4 hours on the counter. 
• Preheat the oven to 325F. 
• Place fresh parsley inside the cavity. 
• Drizzle the duck with olive oil 
• Chop the onion, bell pepper, tomato and a couple of garlic cloves and place it around the duck. 
• Place the duck in the preheated oven, and slow roast it for 5-7 hours or until the meat thermometer reads 165F. 
• When the duck begins to brown; start basting it with its own juices. Baste often. 
• Remove from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil for 10 minutes. 
• Slice and serve.


  1. Now that looks mighty delicious!! I have never roasted a duck, but I love roast goose .Unfortunately they are just too expensive to serve at Christmas..and not enough meat on them for more than a few people.
    But a duck! Now there's a thought..I wouldn't have to wait until Christmas, and could just make it for my husband and myself..

    1. I will make it again, my husband loves "brown meat". I am so glad it worked out. The one thing I regret not having is fresh plums to stew, but I poured 1/4 cup of boiling water over some prunes and it went really well with the meat. In two days we couldn't really finish one side so today I will have to dismantle the roast and freeze parts of it for some other purpose. When we were younger we would have eaten it all by now, but these days we need much less. I was thinking of goose next time. I did goose a couple of times over the years, but I don't remember how they turned out.

  2. That is one horrific story, Zsuzsa. You were both so lucky that you slid in the 'right' direction and didn't end up in the river. I can understand the trauma that prevented you from driving for so long afterwards.

    What a delicious looking duck! Proper preparation of a duck (most poultry in fact) does take time and effort, and lots of paper towels. I have a pair of tweezers set aside for pulling out the various types of feathers left from the plucking. One of these days, soon I hope, I'm going to finally cook the duck in my freezer.

    I've never cooked a goose but I'll have to give it a try. I'm pretty sure my mom cooked a goose some time ago but I can't remember what I thought of it. I look forward to seeing whatever method you choose to use to cook yours.

    1. You don't know the half of it Maria! Another car went down earlier and its lone occupant died on impact. It wasn't a simple ditch. Every year the spot claimed lives until two years after our accident the ravine was filled up with gravel.

      I used tweezers as well, the stubs were tough to pull out. I cooked a goose when my mother in law was here from Hungary, it was also our son's birthday so the goose held no significance in comparison. I may have a picture of it somewhere. I am normally a white meat eater but the duck was very tasty. I am cooking a soup from the giblets today.

    2. You definitely had a lucky break not joining the earlier fatality.

      I tried plucking out the feather stubs with my nails but found that they were stubborn. Then inspiration struck ... and I got those tweezers. I remember asking my mom why she didn't cook goose more recently and she said it was just too fatty for her. This from the woman who used to dip her bread into drippings and think it was fine dining. :)

    3. Hahaha fine dining indeed it is.

  3. Oh my, no wonder you couldn't look at a duck for years! What a traumatic event to go through.

    We have duck every Christmas, goose was impossible to get when I was younger and even now it is hard to find. As a consequence I have never tasted it, but my father tells me it is lovely. Mind you, he too always had a dripping pot for spreading on bread ;)

    1. We used to have goose at our neighborhood market, but Maia you got me worried, I may not be able to get it anymore.




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