Crispy slow roasted duck served alongside savory duck fat potatoes and delicious braised red cabbage — this czech-inspired feast is perfect for your next holiday celebration!
Our apartment in Prague was right above a little pub where the most popular menu item was roasted duck with caraway — pečená kachna na kmíně. Whenever I was in the mood for something ultra comforting, the delicious aroma wafting up to our apartment would draw me downstairs for the duck dinner served with flavorful braised red cabbage and bread dumplings. Our roasted duck recipe here keeps the classic Czech flavors, but swaps out the bread dumplings for duck fat potatoes — an easy and deliciously crispy addition!
preparing the duck
Slow roasting duck at a low temperature produces incredibly tender meat with a perfectly crispy skin. While this method is less used in the States, I prefer it for its simple and no-fuss nature — no need to flip the duck or even open the oven for the first four hours! It also gives plenty of time for the fat to render, an incredibly important factor in getting less greasy meat and crispier skin.
The day before
If you’ve bought a frozen duck, make sure to let it thaw in you refrigerator for a good 2-3 days. The day before cooking you’ll want to remove any giblets and trim off any excess fat. Then sprinkle the duck all over (inside and out) with kosher salt and set it on a wire rack breast-side down. Place a pan underneath the rack to catch any liquid and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
This process of salting and resting the duck (dry brining) will draw out moisture, while the salt dissolves and is reabsorbed into the duck. This results in more flavor and a nice crispy skin!
Day of cooking
Before you put your duck in the oven, you’ll need to pierce little holes all over the skin with a sharp knife. If you’re having trouble piercing the skin, we’ve found that using kitchen scissors to make little snips works just as well. Just make sure to avoid piercing the meat, as this can cause a tougher texture. Then score the skin over the breast in a diamond pattern, again making sure not to pierce the meat. These steps are incredibly important, as they will help the duck fat render!
Now it’s time for the seasonings. You salted your duck yesterday so today you’ll just be adding marjoram and caraway seed. Then you’ll stuff the duck with fresh thyme, whole cloves of garlic and roughly chopped onion and apple. These aromatics will help infuse the duck as it cooks and also keep the meat juicy. To keep the filling in (and for a prettier presentation) tie the duck legs together with kitchen twine.
slow roasted duck and potatoes
The duck is ready so now we can get it into the oven! We’ll be roasting it for five hours. Here’s our oven schedule:
4 hours at 250 F (120 C)
The first four hours you can kick back and relax. In fact, you should make sure not to even open the oven at all!
30 minutes at 250 F (120 C)
After four hours, you’ll remove your duck from the oven and set the wire rack and duck aside. Drain all but about 2-3 tablespoons of fat from the bottom of the roasting pan, but don’t discard the excess fat. You’ll need another few tablespoons for the braised red cabbage recipe below. Add your baby potatoes and a bit of onion to the roasting pan. Toss to coat with the duck fat and sprinkle generously with salt. Now return the duck to the pan and send everything back to the oven for 30 minutes.
20 minutes at 400 F (200 C)
Now crank up the oven to 400 F (200 C) so we can get really crispy duck skin! As soon as that skin is nice and crispy remove the duck from the oven and set aside to rest.
15 minutes at 400 F (200 C)
Send the potatoes back to the oven to finish cooking while the duck is resting — they’ll be perfectly cooked and nice and hot when you’re ready to serve!
braised red cabbage
The braised red cabbage also begins with two tablespoons of duck fat, though you could definitely use butter or even olive oil if you prefer.
Start by sauteing thinly sliced red onion in the fat or oil of your choice, then add the shredded red cabbage. Pour in your liquids — a bit of red wine and apple cider vinegar — and stir in one diced apple. Add brown sugar, a pinch of cloves and salt to taste, give the mixture a good stir and then cover and let it simmer until you’re ready to enjoy!
The red cabbage will need at least 45 minutes, but you can let it simmer for up to an hour and a half for an even softer texture. About one hour is generally perfect for me!
Looking for the perfect dessert for this meal? Try our Czech buchty, which are jam filled sweet buns!
And for more sunday dinner inspiration, make sure to check out these recipes!
- Easy St. Louis Ribs in Oven
- Reverse Sear Rack of Lamb with Dijon Mustard Sauce + Herby Farro
- Cast Iron Pizza (on the grill or in the oven)
- Homemade Runzas
- Homemade Corned Beef and Cabbage
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