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Crisp Roast Duck with Olives

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It is said that France is divided into three regions of gastronomy determined by the fat it uses for cooking. In the north, this is butter. In the southeast, olive oil. In the southwest, it is unquestionably duck fat.


Serves 4


duck, about 4 pounds

For the Sauce


cups homemade chicken stock


tbsp tomato purée, dried herbs, fennel seeds, bay leaf


/3 cup pitted green olives

Step 1

This recipe yields a succulent roast duck, every morsel of which is tender and tasty, and as a by-product, a good half pint of duck fat. No cook worth her salt would waste a scrap of this precious substance, which is kept in a pot in the fridge and used for frying and flavoring.

Step 2

Trim any flaps of fat on the duck, and pull out any lumps of fat tucked inside. Rinse and dry the duck, then prick lightly all over with a skewer (about 20-30 times), trying to pierce the skin but not the flesh underneath. Rub all over with salt and sprinkle some inside the cavity.

Step 3

Put on a rack and roast upside down for 3 hours at 250° F (200° F convection). Drain the fat into a bowl, set the duck the right way up and increase the heat to 350° F (325° F convection) for 45 minutes longer, till nicely browned. Leave to stand for 15 minutes, loosely covered with foil.

Step 4

Reduce the chicken stock with the tomato and herbs to a saucelike consistency, then strain into a clean pan. Simmer the olives in water for 2 minutes to temper the flavor, then strain and stir into the sauce.

Step 5

Cut the duck into pieces and serve with the sauce.

Cooks’ Note

Baked olives: it is a revelation how olives are transformed by heating, their flavor mellowed and softened. Next time you wish to serve olives with drinks, try baking them. Cut a square of foil and put in a small baking dish, pulling up the sides. Put rinsed olives in the middle with a splash of olive oil, half a dozen peppercorns, a halved clove of garlic, a few coriander seeds, a bay leaf and a strip of orange zest. Wrap in the foil to enclose the olives completely then bake at 350° F (325°F convection) for 10 minutes or up to half an hour. Serve in the foil parcel.

From A Table in the Tarn by Orlando Murrin. Text copyright © 2009 by Orlando Murrin and Peter Steggall; photographs copyright © 2009 by Jonathan Buckley. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

How would you rate Crisp Roast Duck with Olives?

  • Made it tonight following the suggestions of pythia7. Duck was done about right, but after the 20 minutes breast-up that pythia7 suggests, I gave it 7 minutes breast down to crisp up the lower half of the bird.

  • Duck was a little over done,but fat rendered beautifully. I thought the sause was way too salty. I’d cut the time to two and a half hours and crisp it for 20 minutes at about 450 F.

  • Followed instructions to the letter,
    but the duck was overdone;I’ve only
    myself to blame because something
    told me that a three hour and forty-
    five minute oven-time was excessive,
    but I went ahead anyway. On the plus
    side, the remarkably simple sauce
    (Hit it a few times with an
    immersion blender) was different and
    intriguing, quite tasty actually;
    also I recovered nearly two cups of
    golden duck fat which I look forward
    to using.
    Whether that makes up for fifteen
    dollars worth of duck jerky is
    something else again

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