Monday, March 14, 2011

Make-it-from-scratch Monday: Roast Wild Duck with Cherry-Juniper gravy

This week's recipe is cribbed from this one at, but modified to use the ingredients I had on hand. It uses one of my favorite ingredients in wild game cooking, juniper berries, so I had to try it. If you can't find juniper berries, try a specialty store or bulk foods retailer online- they are worth seeking out!  

Instead of a 5 lb. domestic duck, I used a 2 1/2 lb wild duck (so I had to cut the cooking time in half), and used dried cherries instead of the prunes, which I probably would have done anyway, even had I had prunes. I also always read the reviews attached to an online recipe (some good advice from real people there!), and one of the reviewers mentioned that it would be a waste to stick the giblets, heart and liver in the cavity of the bird to roast and then simply discard- why not use them for gravy? And I always make it a point to use every usable bit of an animal that we hunt, so I wanted to incorporate those parts into the gravy


1 whole duck; gizzard, heart, liver reserved
2 cups water
20 juniper berries, slightly crushed
1-2 oz dried cherries or prunes
1 lemon or orange, quartered
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 oz dry sherry
1 oz brandy (I used some plum brandy)
salt and pepper to taste

First, macerate the dried fruit in the brandy to soften.

Then make the juniper broth by boiling 15 of the juniper berries in 2 c. water.

Prepare the duck.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Season inside and out with salt, pepper, thyme. Place about 5 juniper berries in cavity of duck, and all but one of the lemon slices.
Put duck in oven for 30 mins.

Add one lemon slice and macerated fruit to broth and steep. Reserve brandy for later!

Place giblets and heart (I cooked the liver separately- a special treat just fo me) in the broth and boil. When cooked through, remove and dice finely.

After 30 mins, remove duck from oven and pour half of the broth over top. Try to reserve as much fruit as possible.

Turn duck over so breast side is down.
Bake for another 30 mins, then remove and pour remaining liquid broth over top (still reserving fruit).
Turn duck again so breast side is up.
Lower heat to 350.
Bake for 30 mins until done.

Remove duck from oven to rest and pour off pan juices (separate as much duck fat as possible- keep that for some other use!).  Combine juices with reserved fruit, brandy, and diced giblets. Add water if necessary. Bring to a boil and add sherry. Turn heat to medium-low.

Make a slurry with a couple tablespoons of flour and water in a separate dish. Add slowly to juices to thicken. Keep stirring or your gravy will burn or get lumpy.

Meanwhile, summon the house butcher to carve the bird.

Plate and serve with gravy. I added herb-roasted redskin potatoes and broccoli. Roasted brussel sprouts would be great with this also.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me that I have a duck in the freezer that needs to be cooked. I never can find juniper berries around here, so I'll have to look online, because I have several recipes that use them!