Whole Duck with Silky Parsnips

We originally planned on duck breasts from Hudson Valley Duck Farm on our trip to the Chappaqua Farmers Market. But they were out, so we decided to go for a whole duck. I found a recipe that braises the legs, sears the breasts and uses the rest of the duck for stock. Sounded perfect. And it was.

So we started the night before. Yes, after our trip to the farmers market, we still made soup from all our leftovers in the fridge! We were saving the good stuff for Sunday night. Here’s our ducky duck.

So we started by butchering the duck. Longtime SCF readers will remember that I first butchered ducks in preparation for duck confit a couple of years ago. I have since learned a better way of butchering ducks. You start by cutting the breast meat off the center breast bone, and then work your way down from there.

As you can see, I’ve cut the breast away from the breastbone. Now I’m down by the ribcage, trying to find the hip bone to separate the leg from the carcass:

Got it!

So we put the breasts and legs and wings back in the fridge, and put the carcass and the neck in a soup pot with leeks and onions:

We let that cook for a few hours, then put it in the fridge so the fat would come to the top. In the morning, I skimmed off the fat and took the solids out:

And was left with a lovely pot of duck stock:

Now it is time to cook the rest of the dish. I diced the onions cut the parsnips into “batons” as requested in the recipe:

Then seared the duck legs:

Take those out and saute the onions and parsnips in the duck fat. *yeah*

Add stock and nestle duck legs back in:

Cook for an hour — then rest for an hour! Don’t worry. It stays warm.

Meanwhile, as you’re getting closer, you can sear the duck breast.

After that rests, slice it.

Put the parsnips down first, then the leg, the fan the breast slices over it.

You’re supposed to garnish with a parsley-garlic gremolata, but we did not have either, so I squeezed some lemon over the top.


Braised Duck Legs and Sauteed Duck Breasts with Silky Parsnips from Epicurious.com via Gourmet, 2008.

1 (6- to 7-pound) Long Island (Pekin) duck, excess fat from body cavity discarded (we used moulard)
1 leek, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large sweet onions (2 pounds total) such as Vidalia
1 medium carrot
1 quart water
2 pounds parsnips
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grapeseed or vegetable oil, divided
1 (1-inch) piece peeled ginger
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Cut off legs, wings, and breasts from duck and cut up carcass and wing tips for stock. Remove any bones from breasts, leaving skin on. Chill legs, wings, and breasts in a sealable bag.

Wash leek , then put in a 6- to 8-quarts pot with carcass, 1 onion (cut in half), carrot, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, skimming foam. Reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered, skimming occasionally, 1 hour. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding solids. Skim off and discard fat.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Coarsely chop remaining onion. Peel parsnips and cut into 3-inch batons (1/4 inch thick). Pat legs and wings dry and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide 6- to 7-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown legs and wings, turning over once, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add onion to pot with parsnips, ginger, zest, juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and pale golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 2 cups duck stock (save remainder for another use) and nestle legs and wings in vegetables. Bring to a boil. Cover pot and braise in oven until meat is tender, about 1 hour. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature 1 hour while cooking breasts.

Season duck breasts with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (total).

Heat remaining teaspoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook duck breasts, skin sides down, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Turn and cook about 6 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.

Mix together parsley and garlic. Slice breasts crosswise. Serve legs and wings over parsnips and serve sliced breast on the side. Sprinkle with parsley mixture.

Cooks’ notes

•Stock can be made 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Fat will be easier to remove once cold and solidified.
•Legs and wings can be braised 1 day ahead and chilled.


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