I think I may have found a new family tradition for New Year’s Day! I’m really not sure why, but I’ve always had a perception that it is difficult to cook a roast duck well, so I have steered well clear. This recipe totally changed my mind, it’s incredibly simple and absolutely delicious
Because I had been feeling so ill in the run up to Christmas, my festive dinner ended up being quite a low-key affair. I still cooked the turkey and all the trimmings but didn’t feel up to trying out anything new, so I relied on all of my old favourites.
To make up for this, I decided to try something different for New Years Day. There would be fewer people at the table, I felt I’d more confident about trying something new without all of the stress that Christmas Day can bring. I did have a backup in the freezer, just in case it went wrong…
When I mentioned to my son’s Slovakian tennis coach that I was thinking of cooking a duck for New Years Day, he told me that it’s quite traditional to eat duck on that day in Slovakia. The recipe I decided to use comes from ‘Czech and Slovak Cooking’ by Ivana Veruzabova (affiliate link) and it’s very simple but quite delicious.
The duck is stuffed with cubes of baguette which have been toasted for 10 minutes in the oven, spread with liver pate and then soaked in a mixture of milk and egg. The skin is then pierced all over, to allow the fat to be released more easily, and rubbed with salt, pepper and caraway seeds. Unfortunately I was not able to get hold of caraway seeds this time, but I will use them next time I cook this dish.
Next I put the duck on top of a rack in a deep roasting tin, and poured about 2cm of boiling water in the bottom of the tin. It then went in the oven at 180C for around 2.5 hours, turning the duck every 30 minutes and basting it in the delicious duck fat.
30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, I took the duck out of the oven and drizzled honey all over the breast, turning the heat up to 190C to crisp up the skin.
The duck was tender and moist, and the skin crispy and sweet, just perfect. I think I may have put a little bit too much stuffing in the bird, but it was still good. The liver pate provided a delicious savoury contrast to the sweet duck.
I’m definitely going to make this recipe again, because it was so easy to do and everyone agreed that it was delicious.
Next time, I may try cooking the duck for a longer time on a lower heat, before giving it the final blast of heat.
In Slovakia, duck would normally be eaten with cabbage and either potatoes or dumplings so I attempted to make lokse (potato pancakes), which didn’t work quite as well as I hoped, but were still delicious – I’ll have another go at those soon to try and get them right!