When it comes to poultry, duck isn’t a common choice for the dinner table. At least not in our North American culture! But in our home, duck is a favorite. So much, in fact, that we actually prefer it to both chicken and turkey.
When you know how to properly cook and prepare it, I think duck is one of the richest-flavored poultry meats available. And because I want you to bring good things into your kitchen, I’m going to show you one of my favorite ways to roast a duck with thyme, apples and onions!
How to Roast a Duck
There’s just one issue most people come up against when attempting to roast a whole duck for the first time. Duck has far more fat than the fast-growing chickens and turkeys you’ll find at your local grocery store.
And if you bake a duck as you would a chicken or turkey, you’ll end up with a thick, slimy, fatty later over the entire bird that is very unappealing!
Side note: if you raise your own ducks for meat, the fatty layer will be significantly less than with a commercially raised bird.
Whenever you roast a duck, you must give the fats opportunity to melt and drip off. And that’s the secret to a delicious roast duck with thyme, apples and onions!
Let me walk you through the process.
Dice Your Apples and Onions
This recipe leaves an apple and onion flavor infused throughout your duck meat. If you don’t like sweet flavors paired with meat, don’t worry! The meat only has a hint of sweetness and is actually reminiscent of something smoked with apple chips…but without the smoked flavor!
So go ahead and halve your apples, removing the cores. Slice each half (peel and all) into ½ inch thick wedges.
Peel the onions, halve and also slice them into ½ inch wedges.
Measure Water and Salt Into Your Roasting Pan
To roast a whole duck, you need a baking dish with a lid. If you have a roaster you like to use for cooking whole chickens, check and see if your duck will fit.
Chances are, it will. If so, measure water and salt into the bottom of your roasting pan.
Fill the Roaster with Apples, Onions and Your Duck
Scatter the apple and onion wedges across the bottom of your roaster. Then place your duck on top, with the breast side down so that the meat can be fully infused with the apple and onion flavor.
Liberally sprinkle the bird’s back with salt, dried thyme and a bit of freshly ground pepper. Cover the roaster with a lid and pop it into the oven!
How to Bake a Duck
Let your duck bake in a 350F oven for about 75 minutes. This gives the breast meat time to take on the apple and onion flavor.
Once 75 minutes have passed, pull the roaster from the oven and drain off juices. Remove apples and onions (they’ll be quite mushy by this time), then flip your duck breast side up.
Add a light dusting of salt, more thyme and more freshly ground black pepper.
Before you put your duck back in the oven, take a fork and pierce through the breast skin in many places to release the fats.
Bake for another 40-45 minutes, then once again drain off juices (by this time it’ll mostly be fat). Pierce through the duck’s skin with a fork once again.
Then bake your duck for another 45-60 minutes without the lid. Cook until the skin is crispy and the fatty under layer has fully melted away.
Tip #1: you may need to turn the oven down to 300F to prevent scorching.
Tip #2: the ends of the duck’s wings usually do scorch because there’s nothing to them. So I usually remove the wing tips at the first joint before serving.
Serve Your Roast Duck
Once its finished, carve up your duck and serve it as the centerpiece to a special meal! And hopefully, you’ll grow to love it as much as we do here in the Mountain Farmstead kitchen!
Roast Duck with Thyme, Apples and Onions
- Roasting pan with a lid
- 1 5 lb (2.5 kg) duck
- 2 medium apples
- 2 medium onions
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 C water
- 3 teaspoons dried thyme
- Fully thaw your duck before attempting to make this recipe
- This accomplished, halve your apples and remove the cores.
- Cut each of your halves into 1/2 inch slices
- Peel onions, halve and also slice into 1/2 inch wedges
- Place apples and onions in the bottom of your roasting pan
- Add 1 1/2 C of water to the roaster
- Sprinkle 1 tsp salt over the apples and onions
- Place your thawed duck in the roaster, breast side down.
- Sprinkle the duck's back with salt, cracked pepper and also 1 teaspoon of thyme
- Cover with lid and bake in a 350F oven for 75 minutes.
- Pull the roasting pan from the oven and drain off juices for gravy.
- Also set aside cooked apples and onions.
- Place your duck back in the empty roasting pan breast side up this time.
- Apply another layer of salt, cracked pepper and 1 more teaspoon of dried thyme.
- Take a fork and pierce the duck's skin many times to release fats.
- Return to the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove the lid from your roasting pan and pierce the duck's skin once again.
- Leaving the lid off, return your roasting pan to the oven.
- Bake your duck for another 45-60 minutes, or until the skin has turned dark brown and crispy.
- If things seem to be browning too quickly, you can turn the oven down to 300F.
- Serve hot and enjoy!