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LivingFood and DrinkCrispy-Skinned Steamed Duck

Crispy-Skinned Steamed Duck

IMG_2868 - crispy skinned duck

Serves 6.

I love having roast duck over the holidays, but it’s not the easiest thing to make. Typically, the duck is roasted in the oven and involves a number of labour-intensive steps, including removing copious amounts of fat from the pan. And by the time the meat is cooked, the skin may not be crisp. A few years ago I happened upon this much easier method of cooking duck in The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook. The duck is rubbed with brandy and salt and refrigerated for 1-3 days. It is then steamed in a bamboo steamer on top of the stove, which releases the fat and keeps the meat tender and moist.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use a fresh lemon, not a concentrate, and make sure the honey has no preservatives added. For more recipes using all-natural ingredients, visit

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  • 1 duck, 4 lb/2 kg
  • 2  tsp(10 ml) brandy or vermouth(10 mL)
  •  1/3 cup (75 ml)  coarse salt, or ¼ cup/75 ml table salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 2 tbsp(25 ml) chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp(10 ml) pepper (10 mL)
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2  tbsp(25 ml)  liquid honey


 With paper towels, pat duck dry. Rub inside and out with brandy then salt, distributing evenly. Place in dish and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 24 hours. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days, turning daily.)

Rinse salt off duck under cold running water; dry with paper towels. Pull off excess fat in cavity. Cut off tailbone and excess neck skin. Using skewer or toothpick, prick skin all over, being careful not to prick fat and meat underneath.

In small bowl, lightly mash together garlic, chopped rosemary and pepper; rub inside cavity. Peel off strips of lemon rind. Set aside.

In wok or large pot with 2 inches (5 cm) of water, bring all but 4 strips of the lemon rind and 2 of the rosemary sprigs to boil. Place duck, breast side up, in large bamboo steamer; lay remaining lemon rind and rosemary sprigs on top. Place steamer on wok. Reserving 1-½ tsp (7 ml) lemon juice, squeeze remaining juice over duck. Cover and steam over medium-high heat for 70 minutes, adding more boiling water to  maintain level as necessary.

IMG_2859 - Duck in Bamboo steamer
Remove duck and carefully pour out liquid from body cavity. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes; transfer to glass baking dish and refrigerate until cold. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.) Discard rosemary and lemon rind.

In small bowl, mix honey with reserved lemon juice; brush some over bottom of duck. Place duck, breast side down, on rack in roasting pan. Roast in 425°F (220°C) oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Turn duck over; brush all over with remaining honey mixture. Roast for about 15 minutes longer or until well browned, watching carefully to avoid burning.








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