A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater: December’s Roast Duck and a GIVEAWAY

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Over the last year, I’ve had a great time (and some delicious meals) cooking one recipe per month from The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater.   Being that it’s the end of the year, this will be my last (official) recipe that I’m posting as part of my personal challenge.  I’m sure I will continue to make many a recipe from this book as there were several months when I had a hard time choosing just one thing. For now, I leave you with Nigel’s roasted duck with potatoes and pancetta, and a chance to win your own copy of this fabulous book (see the end of this post for details).

I changed this recipe quite a bit, mostly based on the fact that the original recipe would have made entirely too much food for two – even though Nigel claims it serves two. (I’m starting to think it It’s actually sort of amazing Nigel didn’t gain about 50 lbs. the year he was writing this book.) The original recipe calls for a whole duck, 6 potatoes, and 5 oz. of pancetta. I didn’t want to roast an entire duck or butcher one and store the remainder.  So, I decided to just roast two duck breasts instead, which ended up being a perfect amount.

Obviously with the original recipe, you would be cooking this for quite a while –  about an hour and a half according to Nigel.   The duck breasts would turn out rather, errm, not good, if you went that timing.  Instead, I decided to sear the breasts on the stove-top first and then finish them off in the oven on top of the potato and pancetta mixture. Normally I like my duck somewhere between medium rare and medium but being that I’m pregnant, I decided to cook mine more fully (and pull Tom’s out earlier).  Of course, because I wanted the potatoes to cook through (and I wanted them to have at least some of the flavor from the duck fat renderings), I had to make some adjustments with prep and cooking time—namely, cooking the potatoes and pancetta on their own for a bit before adding the duck breasts on top of them. The amount of time you do this will vary on how rare/well you like your duck.

This turned out marvelously.  Between the duck and its rendered fat, the pancetta, and the marsala, this is an incredibly rich meal.   It is without a doubt something I urge you to try for a slightly more upscale Sunday supper or really, just any day of the week, whether you make it the way I did or with an entire duckling.  I definitely think using the whole duck would make this even richer as it would have more time to render its fat and flavor the potato mixture.  I made this dinner in my cast iron skillet (but seared the duck in a stainless steel skillet, since the cast iron was already in the oven), and it turned out perfectly. I was able to use the same pan I used to cook the pancetta/potato/onion mixture, and they all turned cooked down together beautifully. We had this with some roasted brussels sprouts.

Roast Duck with Pancetta and Potatoes

Serves 2
Inspired by
Nigel Slater

1 Tbsp. olive oil + more for searing duck
3 oz. pancetta, diced
3/4 lb. potatoes, cut into 1-2″ pieces (I used baby reds & left the skin on, Nigel recommends peeled Maris Pipers)
1 medium onion, cut in half and each half cut in sixths
4-5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1-2 bay leaves
2 duck breasts (about 6 oz. each), skin on
1/3 cup marsala

Preheat the oven to 400.

Place the pancetta in a roasting pan or a large pan that can go into the oven (I used my cast iron skillet) with the olive oil.  Warm it over a low heat, letting the pancetta flavor the oil without letting it color.  Add the potatoes to the pan and let them cook slowly. After a few minutes, add the onion, thyme and bay.  Turn everything over as it cooks, letting the potatoes and onions brown slightly.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes.*

Score the skin of the duck breast with a knife (you just want to score the skin, not cut the meat), and season both sides of the duck with salt and pepper.  Heat a little bit of oil (you won’t need much because of the fat in the duck) over medium to medium-high heat.  Once it’s hot, add the duck skin side down and let it sit there crisping for about 5 minutes.

Pour about a tablespoon of the duck fat renderings over the potato and pancetta mixture and stir to combine. Place the duck breasts over the potatoes, and continue to roast all together until duck is cooked to your liking.

*The time you cook the potatoes will vary based on how long you cook your duck breast. For a medium rare duck breast, about 8 minutes in the oven after searing should do the trick, so you will want to cook the potatoes for about 35-40 minutes first.  If you are cooking the duck more fully, add it after about 25 minutes of cooking the potatoes and cook everything for another 15-20 minutes or so.


The Kitchen Diaries Giveaway

I actually had a hard time finding this book, so I hope that doesn’t mean it’s being discontinued! Even if it is, I have a copy in my hot little hands, and it can soon be in yours.

To enter for a chance to win the cookbook, just leave a comment telling me your favorite seasonal recipe or dish.  A special stew for the winter? A fresh berry tart in the summer? I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winter.  Please enter by midnight on January 11 for your chance to win.

Please note that I can ship to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater: December’s Roast Duck and a GIVEAWAY

  • Nice giveaway! I like the traditional meals served at Christmas with my family and my in-laws. It is bake oatmeal at my in-laws and cranberry-wine jello with pecans. Yum!

  • Nice giveaway! I like the traditional meals served at Christmas with my family and my in-laws. It is bake oatmeal at my in-laws and cranberry-wine jello with pecans. Yum!

  • My favorite seasonal tradition is my grandmothers cranberry cake. My mom makes it every Christmas, and now, I’ve taken on the tradition since I live away from her. It’s a simple bread-like cake laoded with fresh cranberries, but the best part? the buttery cream sauce (I call it Cholesterol Sauce) that is served on top…it’s warm tart buttery goodness. yum!

  • My favorite seasonal tradition is my grandmothers cranberry cake. My mom makes it every Christmas, and now, I’ve taken on the tradition since I live away from her. It’s a simple bread-like cake laoded with fresh cranberries, but the best part? the buttery cream sauce (I call it Cholesterol Sauce) that is served on top…it’s warm tart buttery goodness. yum!

  • julie

    I know its cliche… but you can’t beat a bowl of chili during football season! with cornbread… mmmm…..

  • julie

    I know its cliche… but you can’t beat a bowl of chili during football season! with cornbread… mmmm…..

  • Jen

    I think I have a favorite for every season… fresh strawberries in the summer, spicy chili in the fall, gingerbread in the winter… ok I guess I dont have a spring favorite, probably because I go on a diet every spring :/

  • Jen

    I think I have a favorite for every season… fresh strawberries in the summer, spicy chili in the fall, gingerbread in the winter… ok I guess I dont have a spring favorite, probably because I go on a diet every spring :/

  • Eva

    I love making my mother-in-law’s chicken noodle soup and vegetable beef soup during the winter months. They’re so comforting when it’s chilly outside!

  • Eva

    I love making my mother-in-law’s chicken noodle soup and vegetable beef soup during the winter months. They’re so comforting when it’s chilly outside!

  • Leah

    Definitely chili in the fall. Nothing says football season like a big pot of chili!

  • Leah

    Definitely chili in the fall. Nothing says football season like a big pot of chili!

  • I’ve only had it once, but it’s a dish I can’t stop thinking about…. a fall pasta with duck, roasted eggplant and fall squash, and a creamy cheese. It was such a wonderful dish, my mouth is watering as we speak

  • I’ve only had it once, but it’s a dish I can’t stop thinking about…. a fall pasta with duck, roasted eggplant and fall squash, and a creamy cheese. It was such a wonderful dish, my mouth is watering as we speak

  • It depends on what season we’re actually in . . . if we’re including all of them, then it has to be simple grilled fresh sweet corn with butter and salt in the summer. I could pick something fancier or more complicated, but there is something so Wisconsin in the summer about it.

  • It depends on what season we’re actually in . . . if we’re including all of them, then it has to be simple grilled fresh sweet corn with butter and salt in the summer. I could pick something fancier or more complicated, but there is something so Wisconsin in the summer about it.

  • Eileen

    I love eggnog ice cream! yum.

  • Eileen

    I love eggnog ice cream! yum.

  • Great giveaway!

    I love making apple crisp in the fall, in fact I have one in the oven right now! This past summer I think I became addicted to gazpacho. I can’t wait to make it again!

  • I always get to have ham and bean sopu for my birthday 🙂

  • I have to say that summer is my favorite. It’s so easy to eat fresh and seasonal food. My new favorite is a mango-agave sorbet.

  • Rebekah

    I love to make pumpkin butter in my slow cooker in the fall. It makes a great spread for waffles and pancakes and is a snap to make and bring to someone else’s house!

  • giz

    I can’t believe I’ve never made roast duck. It looks entirely fabulous. I thought I was really stepping out of my comfort zone when I made oxtail stew which is now my #1 favourite comfort food.

  • My favorite seasonal recipe is stuffed acorn squash in late Fall!

  • My favorite seasonal recipe is stuffed acorn squash in late Fall!

  • My favorite seasonal dish is potato cheddar soup for fall/winter. I love my crockpot and there’s nothing simpler than a potato soup after a long day at work: http://tinyurl.com/yjrzz5z

  • Lauren

    My favorite seasonal recipe is the duck we make for Christmas- glazed in a hoisin-honey sauce, it is to die for! Duck is the best!!

  • Katie

    I love anything pumpkin…so my fav season for cooking is fall. I love making choc chip pumpkin cookies-my fav!!!! (to go with a pumpkin spice latte…YUM).

  • Eve

    My favorite season food? How about green bean casserole? yes you can find it any time of the year, but my grandmother only makes it on thanksgiving. It is the best!

  • Jess

    I love pumpkin bread with toasted pumpkin seeds or cranberries!

  • Nevermind the book…I’m staring, ogling at that breast….duck breast that is!

    My fave recipe for the season has to stuffed pork (fruits).

  • jen

    this time of year it has to be christmas cookies and beef stew…yum!

  • I have loved this feature on your blog over the past year! Cooking seasonally is one of my priorities when it comes to deciding what to make for dinner. I love having eggplant dishes in late summer, like the caponata recipe I made in August. And of course, pumpkin in the fall. You could stuff winter squash with just about anything and I would be content to eat it!

  • An excellent twist on making this dish for two. Tomatoes are my favourite so I think my favourite seasonal dish would be what we call “summer spaghetti” which is an uncooked tomato sauce with plenty of basil.

  • Anna M

    I have to have black bean pumpkin soup in the fall.

  • Georgann

    Winter is season I cook most often; too hot in the summer, too busy in the fall, too lazy in the spring (I mean tired from all that spring cleaning). My favorites are roasting a chicken on a Sunday, and eating a leg when it is almost too hot to touch. Then cooking down the bones later that week to make stock. And soups in the winter are a staple. Chicken noodle from homemade stock, veggie soup with barley, clam chowder, split pea. In fact, a friend lead me to your creamy onion soup recipe which is how I got hooked up here! Thanks!

  • I love chili in the winter!!! I can eat gallons of it!

  • That duck breast looks like it’s cooked to perfection and I’m sure the potatoes tasted delicious with all the drippings. Like Giz, I’ve been shy about cooking duck…I think mainly because of the fat content (and calories!)

    Glad you’re feeling well. Next year will be an exciting one for you. All the best!

  • Ludlow Gumbutt

    Can’t beat a hot steamy bowl of smoky fish & shrimp chowder with a hunk of crusty french bread and a cold beer on a cold winters day !

  • Kara

    My dad’s chili in the winter – look forward to it every year!

  • Ivy

    I’ve never cooked duck before and don’t know if I would like it but it looks perfectly cooked. My favourite recipe would be the stuffing in the turkey. Mest best wishes to you and your family for the New Year with a very healthy baby.

  • Loukia

    Arni psito me patates sto fourno , kai marouli salata……mmmmmm That meal says spring to me!

  • mia

    I have an awesome sweet potato recipe that gets me excited every Thanksgiving.

  • Stephanie C.

    I go pumpkin crazy in the fall! I couldn’t even pick a favorite because I have so many!

  • Sounds like such a rich and satisfying meal! My favorite seasonal recipe has to be pumpkin pie. Happy New Year!

  • Annie D.

    Chicken Curry with homemade Naan in the wintertime. It warms you from the inside out!

  • lori H

    I love making lasagna this time of the year! It tastes so good and filling on a cold winter evening!

  • ash

    Pumpkin Roll. I make a few throughout the fall and winter and its the only time of year that I make them. So good!

    Happy New Year!

  • ash

    Pumpkin Roll. I make a few throughout the fall and winter and its the only time of year that I make them. So good!

    Happy New Year!

  • cara

    my favorite thing is actually a drink that my mom makes– a mixture of apple and cranberry juice with cloves and cinnamon and warm!!!

  • tiff

    My favorite seasonal recipe is maryland crab cakes in the summer. Pair it with fresh corn on the cob and coleslaw with a mug of beer.

  • tiff

    My favorite seasonal recipe is maryland crab cakes in the summer. Pair it with fresh corn on the cob and coleslaw with a mug of beer.

  • Mary

    My mom’s stuffing….we have it twice a year, on Thanksgiving and Christmas. She is completely forbidden from EVER changing a single ingredient in that recipe!

  • It’s so simple, but the recipe that strikes me as most seasonal is my mom’s Chocolate Blueberry clusters. My mom’s family owns a blueberry farm and nothing starts the summer off for me like fresh blueberries covered in chocolate.

  • It’s so simple, but the recipe that strikes me as most seasonal is my mom’s Chocolate Blueberry clusters. My mom’s family owns a blueberry farm and nothing starts the summer off for me like fresh blueberries covered in chocolate.

  • my favorite seasonal dish is my dad’s boiled crawfish. Crawfish are plentiful during the Spring, so we often have a boil for Easter. I can’t wait!

  • My mom makes an amazing Beef Wellington that just says it’s the Holiday Season to me.

    I also love the first batch of pumpkin bread in the fall.

  • My favorite is probably soup in the winter. If I had to pick one, I’d say my mom’s French Onion soup – delicious! 🙂

  • Zoe

    Nothing beats a caprese salad with salted mozzarella with just picked tomatoes and basil. Add a sprinkle of sea salt, cracked black pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil and call it a day!

  • Krystyna

    I’m going to have to be boring and go with some delicious chili during fall/football season. You can’t beat it.

  • I’ve really enjoyed your posts from this book. The recipes have all sounded so good!

    I think my favorite seasonal thing is anything with fresh tomatoes in the summer. As a kid I HATED tomatoes, but now I can’t get enough of them when they’re fresh and in season. Like Zoe said, a caprese salad is one of the best ways to enjoy them!

  • Aimee

    In my family, sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows are seasonal. I hope to maybe change that…But that is a favorite of mine.

  • Ally

    My favorite is straberry shortcake in mid-June. I could eat it for breafast, lunch, and dinner.

  • Hmm, probably steak, barbecued corn on the cob, and chicken noodles in the summer. YUM!!

  • I love having Strawberry Shortcake for my birthday in July. I look forward to it every year! Great idea for a giveaway, btw!

    http://www.mrsmessi.blogspot.com

  • Venessa

    What a great giveaway!

    Not only do I love Chicken Tortilla Soup when the temperature drops I also LOVE to make it. It’s not a quick recipe but so well worth it! And I actually like taking my time with it. From the aroma of the chicken simmering with veggies to the tomatoes sauteing with freshly made corn chip…. hmmm love it!

  • Pumpkin pie during the holidays is the best!

  • Carrie Beth

    My absolute favorite “seasonal” food is soup in the late fall and winter months! Nothing says “COMFORT” better than a warm bowl of soup, chili, chowder, or gumbo on a cold night! I love how it just warms me on up! I’m a soup lover, period… but it’s always best when it’s cold outside!

    This year, my new claim to fame is an Italian minestrone soup loosely based on Olive Garden’s version. My father raved over it for weeks when I made it for him the first time. When he asked “What’s for supper?” and I told him what I was cooking, he turned his nose up at it because it was meatless. He couldn’t get enough of it after his first spoonful! : )

  • mary

    i love anything with pumpkin in it! i was worried when there was a supposed pumpkin shortage around thanksgiving, but thankfully it never really affected any store i shop at!

  • Sandra

    I have a few favorites. In the winter I love dried dough with tons of sugar and cinnamon.

    In the summer I love making and eating strawberries stuffed with a vanilla cream cheese and topped with a blueberries and sliced almonds. Yummy!

  • Courtney

    I love chili but won’t eat it unless it’s cold. I haven’t had much of it living in Florida the last two years, but now that I’m in Virginia I foresee many bowls of chili in my future (with noodles on the bottom, of course!).

  • Kierstan

    I love my version of chicken gyros that I made the instant I got home from Greece in 2004. It is probably the most requested dish from my family during the grilling season.

  • Jennifer Baars

    I would have to say my favorite is a homemade chicken soup. Chicken, green beans, onions, carrots, and spices all day in slow cooker and add noodles before serving. Nothing warms you up better here in CT

  • Kate

    briami – a scrumptious roasted vegetable dish for the wintertime. so hearty, warming, and healthy too!

  • I’m one of those people who can eat lamb any time of year, but there’s something about a warm, savory lamb chop on a cold night (I live in Texas, so it doesn’t get too terribly cold, except this year!). My favorite way to prepare it is simply seared with fresh thyme, red wine, and feta cheese! Soooooo delicious.

  • Grilled prawns with melted garlic butter, crunchy French baguette and chilled Sauvignon Blanc – the PERFECT summer meal, to be enjoyed in the sunshine.

  • Cindy

    fresh summer tomatoes…for breakfast, lunch and dinner, sandwiches, snacks, salads, like an apple, anything 🙂

    when the weather is cooler I love to make thick hearty soups like split pea, black bean, and chili. oh, and I love butternut squash.

    Spring I love fresh green peas.

  • My favorite seasonal dish would be a vegetable and bean noodle soup with caramelized onion and lightly fried garlic!

  • My favorite seasonal dish that I make every Christmas is a stuffed pork tenderloin. It’s so wonderful and sinful that I only make it once a year 🙂

    http://pinksposts.blogspot.com/2009/08/little-christmas-eve-pork-tenderloin.html

    This year I found almost all the ingredients at my co-op and it was even better 🙂

    In the summer, homemade salsa – I eat it on EVERYTHING…

  • herpaintedbunting

    I really enjoy a family recipe for paprika chicken. It has tabasco sauce and sour cream. In fact I love that flavor so much that I’ve modified it a million ways using fried chicken, no chicken, stir-fry veggies…all kinds of possibilities. Of course, sour cream isn’t great for you but there are worse things!

  • Ally

    tough. but i love chili and all variations thereof.

  • Beth S

    I am a big fan of chili on a cold day.

  • manizor

    i love the fall flavorings – cranberry, pumpkin, cinnamon and spice! any recipe with those ingredients makes me excited about life!

  • Alice

    I look forward every year to making jerk chicken in the summer. It sounds weird to crave something so spicy in the Texas heat, but we can’t get enough of it!