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Confit duck with seasonal winter spices

Seasonal spices can transform the humble duck into a rich, mouth-watering treat, says Cai Ap Bryn. Serves two.

Confit duck

The inspiration behind this confit duck dish

As a gesture of goodwill, a friend of mine gifted me a wild duck shortly after Christmas. As I haven’t been out wildfowling this season, I wasn’t going to decline and soon put the bird to good use. For a wild duck, a good confit duck is something you cannot dismiss. (Read wildfowling for beginners.)

Although the bird itself lacks enough fat to confit traditionally, I simply add shop-bought duck fat to help seal and cook during this process, and I find that it works wonderfully well.

The beauty of this confit duck recipe is that you can cook it well in advance and store it. It seals in the fat for a very long time, so all you need to do is place the dish in the oven to melt the fat and ready the glaze. This is a time-saver.

I used a sweet festive glaze, consisting of the leftover Christmas spices and honey. It’s a great way to reduce the workload and get rid of some of those festive staples you may still have after a couple of weeks of indulgence.

Confit duck is a classic old French recipe for duck.  Known as Confit de Canard in French, duck legs are slow-cooked in duck fat until the meat is tender, then the skin crisped to golden perfection.

Confit duck recipe


  • 1 mallard, cut into halves (breast and leg)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 4 juniper berries, crushed
  • ½ zest of one orange (the other half will be used with the glaze)
  • 400ml duck fat
  • 3 tbsp honey

For the glaze

  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ½ orange zest (see above)
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Place the duck halves, skin side up, in a small, high-sided baking dish. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper, allspice, crushed juniper berries and orange zest. Cover and place in the fridge overnight to marinate to develop the flavours.
  2. When you are ready to cook, cover each half of the bird with the duck fat. Then cover with foil and place in the oven for 2 hours 15 minutes at 150°C/gas mark 2. If you have stored your duck in the fridge beforehand, allow it to get to room temperature before applying the fat to the dish.
  3. For the glaze, in a separate pot or pan, add the honey, allspice, orange zest and salt and slowly heat for a few minutes. Remove the duck carefully from the fat, pat down and drain, before drizzling the glaze over the top of it.
  4. When removing the mallard from the oven, you can grill the ducks on a medium heat to add colour to the skin. This will only take 5 minutes.
  5. You can serve this with some cranberry sauce. However, for this one I mixed the cranberries with some wild blackberries I’d made into jam in the autumn. The richness of the berries with the duck really makes this a treat.

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