My Christmas dinners have always had a ham or turkey as the centerpiece. I wanted to try roast goose or duck for ages, but hubby hates duck. This year I decided to just go for it since we will have our “real” Christmas dinner at his parent’s house. I settled on this Christmas Roast Duck With Cranberry-Orange Glaze, and hubby happily ordered pizza, his favorite thing ever, from his favorite pizza place. The only duck I have ever tried was Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Port Wine Reduction, and I am so excited to make my first roast duck!
Make the holidays special with this Christmas roast duck with cranberry-orange glaze! Featuring perfectly crisp skin and a spiced glaze full of festive flavors, this roast duck adds elegance to your holiday table.
Since Thanksgiving, I have been scoping out the frozen poultry section at my usual grocery store. They have had geese in years past, but this year it was only turkeys and ducks (which is why I chose duck for my menu). I must have checked that section on every shopping trip since Thanksgiving, and the week I decide to buy a duck I find it almost empty. All they had were turkey breasts and cornish hens.
After panicking for a few seconds, I decided to do something I never do: ask for help. I checked at the meat counter, and they had a frozen duck in the freezer in the back. What a relief! I got a 6.71-pound duck for $26.77 ($3.99 per pound).
I had already found everything else I needed, which wasn’t a lot. Things like the onion, lemon, herbs, ginger, and a couple of oranges for fresh-squeezed orange juice and zest. I had the rest, including cranberry juice, on hand.
The post with this Christmas Roast Duck recipe is a must-read if, like me, you have never roasted a whole duck. There are some steps in the process I have never run across with turkey, chicken, or cornish hen. I felt much more confident once I read through the whole process a couple of times.
Prepping the Duck
Since I bought a frozen duck, my first step was to thaw it. This was admittedly easy to do by simply placing it in the refrigerator 4 days before I planned to make this recipe. The inside still had a few ice crystals on day three, and I couldn’t get the innards out. Placing it in a large bowl of water for an hour completely thawed it and saved the day.
Now that Daffy was thawed, I had some prep work to do. A whole duck has an extra flap of skin at the neck that needs to be trimmed away. This duck needed to be stuffed with herbs, lemon, and onion. Nothing needed to be peeled, and the lemon and onion just cut into quarters. I have made a few roast turkeys and chickens that have similar stuffing.
Next, I tied the legs with kitchen string and scored the skin over the breast. I used a sharp knife and too much pressure at first, cutting all the way to the meat in spots. Once I got the hang of it, I eased up on the pressure and cut through the skin to expose the fat but not the meat.
The final step was to thoroughly dry the bird and then generously salt the outside. I put my salted duck onto a wire cooling rack placed in a sheet pan to catch the drips. The whole thing went into my refrigerator overnight.
Roasting the Duck
The next day I removed the duck from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes while the oven preheated. During this time I mixed up the dried spices and rubbed them over the outside of the bird. I also lined the bottom of my roasting pan with foil, added the rack, and placed the spice-rubbed and stuffed bird on that.
The last step before going into the oven was to add a meat thermometer to the inside thigh. Mine is digital, so I set it to beep when the turkey reached 165°F. I also set a timer for the recommended time on the duck’s wrapper for a 6-7 pound bird which was 2 hours 35 minutes. The duck needed to be glazed during the final 15 minutes of roasting. I set a second timer for that and moved on to the glaze.
The glaze came together quickly. I boiled everything but the cornstarch and orange zest. Then I mixed the cornstarch with a little water to form a slurry, added it to the pan, and whisked until the mixture thickened. Lastly, I took the pan off the heat, mixed in the orange zest, and set the glaze aside until it was needed.
Finishing My Christmas Roast Duck
I had been working on the side dishes while the duck cooked. I should have kept a better eye on it, but I had a beeping meat thermometer and timers set. What could go wrong?
When I checked on the temperature I happened to jiggle the display, and it started beeping. The reading was 196°F! The timer still had 18 minutes to go, and my bird was way overdone!
The worst part was I had set the correct temperature on the meat thermometer and reduced the oven’s temperature to 350°F. I have no idea why the thermometer didn’t beep sooner. (I feel like I should pause here and mention the meat thermometer I linked to earlier is not the same brand that failed here.)
The only thing I could do was brush on the glaze, but I was anticipating a dried-out husk of a Christmas Roast Duck. I let it roast for another 15 minutes before removing it from the oven and tenting it with foil.
This recipe lists 20 minutes to prep, 2 hours 20 minutes to cook, and 2 hours 40 minutes total. Here’s how my time was spent:
- 10 minutes to prep the duck
- 30 minutes to come up to room temperature
- 3 minutes to rub with dried spices
- 15 minutes to roast at 425°F
- 2 hours 13 minutes to roast at 350°F
- 28 minutes to make the glaze
- 15 minutes to glaze in the oven
- 15 minutes to rest
- 3 hours 38 minutes total
My total time also includes things I’m sure are not included in the times on the recipe like 30 minutes to come to room temperature and 15 minutes to rest after roasting. I expected the cooking time to vary some based on the weight of the duck. Time to refrigerate overnight is not included.