This roast duck with clementines yields unthinkably crisp skin and a tender, orange-glazed duck that’s lightly spiced, meltingly tender and perfectly complemented by a sweetly tart clementine pan sauce. The key to the shatteringly crisp skin is air-drying the duck for 48 hours in the fridge, so this dish takes some advance planning, but the actual making of the duck couldn’t be easier. And the end result is well worth the wait.–Angie Zoobkoff
Roast Duck with Clementines
For the spice rub
For the pan sauce
- One (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled, lightly bruised and cut into 3 or 4 pieces
- 2 scallions, halved and lightly smashed
- 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed and cut into 3 pieces
- 6 medium (18 oz) clementines (3 halved, 3 whole)
- 2 handfuls (7 oz) kumquats (optional)
- 3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
- 1 cup fresh clementine juice, from about 6 clementines
Make the spice rub and prep the duck
- Cut off the end section or tips of the duck wings. Prick the duck skin all over with a sharp-tined fork to allow the fat to escape during roasting.
- In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the Sichuan and black peppercorns, the star anise, cloves, and salt until fragrant, stirring and shaking the skillet to prevent burning. Tip everything onto a plate and let cool. Pour everything into a spice grinder along with the Chinese five-spice powder and process to a fine powder.
- In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, 3 tablespoons (44 ml) fresh clementine juice (reserve the squeezed clementines halves), soy sauce, and sesame oil and stir until smooth. Place 2 tablespoons in a covered bowl and refrigerate.
- Brush the rest of the clementine and cornstarch slurry all over the skin of the duck, then rub the duck inside and outside with the spice mixture, massaging it in well and making sure it's evenly dispersed.
- Nestle the duck in a flameproof baking dish, preferably on a wire rack, that will comfortably hold the duck with some space around it, breast side up, and refrigerate, uncovered, until the skin and its coating are completely dry, about 48 hours. Check the duck after 24 hours, and if any liquid has accumulated in the bottom of the dish, drain it off and discard it, and then return the duck to the fridge.
Roast the duck and make the pan sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200°C).
- Stuff the ginger, scallions, lemongrass, and the 4 reserved juiced clementine halves into the duck cavity. Roast for 45 minutes.
- Pour off all the rendered fat from the duck and reserve it for another use. (There could be as much as 2/3 cup rendered fat—don’t throw it away! You can toss it with some potatoes and roast them or strain it and stash it in the freezer for a future use.)
- Place the whole and halved clementines and the kumquats, if using, around the duck. Return to the oven and roast for another 45 to 60 minutes, until the duck is dark brown and crisp and a thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh registers 165°F (75°C). During roasting, spoon some pan juices over the clementines, but not over the duck, which must be kept dry to ensure crisp skin.
- Lift the duck onto a cutting board and place the fruit on a platter. Place the baking dish over medium-high heat and add the Chinese rice wine. As it bubbles, scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the reserved cornstarch mixture. Add the clementine juice, stir, and simmer until glossy, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Using kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, cut the duck in half through the backbone, discard the ginger, scallions, lemongrass, and squeezed clementine halves, and then cut the duck into serving portions and pile them onto the platter along with the fruit. Serve with the sauce on the side.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is an excellent roast duck recipe—the crisp skin is delicious and the spice mixture is well balanced. The cornstarch and spice wash was incredibly easy to make and is a great way to the crispiest, juiciest duck I’ve ever had.get
After roasting the duck for the first 45 minutes, I drained 2/3 cup fat from the roasting pan and then returned it, surrounded by clementines, for another hour. The sauce made from the drippings and remaining clementine juice is quick to make and has a great flavor. I served it with basmati pilau, roasted carrots with allspice, and a blood orange salad. Everything tied together nicely and there was certainly enough food. I was unable to get kumquats but I did manage find clementines easily. The next time I come across some, I will definitely make this recipe a second time.
I used a 4-pound duck and it served 4 people.
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This roast duck with clementines was a whopper of a recipe.
I had a frozen duckling from D’Artagnan that I defrosted and covered with the cornstarch mixture and spice rub. I started this on Thursday and we roasted it on Saturday. The meat was incredibly juicy and the skin crisp—perfectly cooked duck. I would absolutely make it again.
Only squeeze as much juice as needed for the cornstarch rub. Although you need cornstarch for the sauce, I’d prefer to make a slurry on the day of roasting instead of stirring an old sludge-like mixture and hoping it tastes okay. While the duck breast and legs were crisp, the back didn’t “dry” up. Next time I’d put the duck on a wire rack above the roasting pan, so both sides were aired out.
I didn’t really know what to do with the leftover fruit besides use it as a garnish. The duck drippings made it flavorful, but it needed something else. Maybe a little more acid or spice? Next time, I’d use the juice from the roasted fruit in the sauce—I think it might add more depth of flavor as the sauce was missing something.
I served this recipe with awesome scallion pancakes and sautéed broccoli greens with fish sauce, mirin, soy, Sriracha, lemon, garlic, and ginger.