News you can trust since 1817

Duck Christmas tradition with a different bird as your centrepiece

Published: November 16, 2016

Duck is a great festive alternative to turkey... and has fewer calories and fat than chicken

Duck is a fantastic dish and a great festive alternative to turkey. For those who are watching the calories in the run up to the indulgent festive season a skinless duck breast has fewer calories and under half the fat of a skinless chicken fillet (a skinless duck fillet has 92kcal and 1.3g of fat per 100g compared to a skinless chicken fillet that has 120kcal and 3.2g of fat per 100g).

Roast Duck breast with autumn root vegetables and balsamic syrup
Serves 2
10-15 minutes preparation
45 minutes cooking

•2 breasts
•1 red onion, peeled and cut in half
• 1 large beetroot, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
• 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
• 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
•1 bulb garlic, cut in half widthways
•Afew sprigs of rosemary and thyme
•2 tablespoons of balsamic syrup
•4 tablespoons of olive oil
•Ahandful of spinach leaves, washed
•Salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 200°c.

Put the onion, beetroot, carrot, potatoes, garlic and herbs into a roasting tray. Season them with plenty of salt and pepper and add the olive oil. Then mix well to ensure all the vegetables are covered in oil, adding a little more if necessary. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 40-50 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. When the vegetables have been in the oven for 20 minutes, place an empty roasting tray in to the oven to warm.

Once the tray for the duck is warming, lightly score the skin on the duck breasts and pat dry. Place the breasts skin side down in a frying pan, on a low to medium heat, with no oil. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy. Be sure to carefully pour off any excess fat as it is cooking.

Once the skin is crispy, flip the breasts over and sear the meat for 30 seconds. Transfer to the warm baking tray and place in the oven to cook for 8 minutes for a rare duck breast (or leave in the oven for a further 4-8 minutes if you like your duck medium to well done.) Once the duck is cooked remove from the oven and allow it to rest somewhere warm until the vegetables are done (approximately 10 minutes depending on how you like your duck cooked.) Five minutes before the vegetables are ready add the spinach to the tray and pop it back in for the remaining few minutes. Once the spinach has been added and cooked through, remove the vegetables and pour over the balsamic syrup, mix well with the vegetables and serve onto 2 plates.

Carve the duck breasts into slices (on a slightly diagonal angle works best) and place the slices on top of the vegetables.

How to defrost a turkey or crown: how long it takes and methods explained - from fridge to microwave and water

Pulled duck wreath
This pulled duck wreath is fantastic as a sharing platter with friends at a festive dinner party or if you’re having a drinks party why not make it into canapés serving the shredded duck and berries in gem lettuce leaves or Chinese style pancakes.

Serves 6 as a sharing starter.
Prep: 5 minutes, cooking/resting time: 3 hours

•1 whole duck
•½ pint cider
•¼ pint cider vinegar
• 1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves then crushed
•Aselection of salad leaves
•1 pomegranate – seeds removed and kept
•1 small bunch of red grapes
•handful of dried whole cranberries

For the rub
•1 tsp ground cumin
•4 tsp smoked paprika
•1 tsp ground coriander
•1 tsp ground allspice
•½ tsp chilli powder
•1 tsp ground black/white pepper
•2 tsp salt
•1 ½ tbsp brown sugar
•2 tbsp whole grain mustard
Pre-heat oven to 190°C, Fan 170°C, Gas Mark 5.
Mix all the rub ingredients together.

Mulled wine recipe: how to make the spiced Christmas drink, best wine and glasses to use - and history explained

Take 2/3 of the rub and rub onto the inside and outside of the duck.

Place the duck into a deep roasting tray; pour in the cider and the vinegar. Cover with foil and place into the oven for 1¼ hours.

After 1¼ hours reduce the temperature to 150°C, Fan 130°C, Gas Mark 2. Continue to cook for 1 hour.  Then increase the heat to 200°C, Fan 180°C, Gas Mark 6, remove the foil and cook for 10 minutes to crisp up.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest somewhere warm for 30 minutes.

These are the best and worst supermarket Christmas puddings available

Meanwhile, prepare the ‘wreath’. Place a large plate on the surface you are serving from to create a circular stencil. Shape the leaves around the plate and scatter the pomegranate seeds, grapes and cranberries over the leaves. Remove the plate to reveal the ‘wreath’.

Using two forks, shred or ‘pull’ the duck and place the pulled meat in the middle of the wreath, where the plate was. Sprinkle some, or all, of the remaining rub onto the duck.

Serve as a sharing dish for everyone to dig into. Alternatively, make into canapés serving the shredded duck and berries in gem lettuce leaves or Chinese style pancakes.

For more recipes and how to videos visit


Let us know what you think


Copyright ©2023 National World Publishing Ltd
Cookie SettingsTerms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy
crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram