“But two selves were warring in my own body – one the hunter who could gather a shot mallard from the reeds and see only the carcass glazed with honey lying in state among the roast potatoes, peas and carrots.”

Brian Carter, Yesterday’s Harvest



This method for cooking duck is simple but there a couple of steps which are important. The problem with duck is that it can be tough, and it can tend to dry out.

Marinating it helps to avoid these problems, even if only for a few hours….but even if you don’t have time to marinate still cover with the oil and vermouth mix.

Resting is also essential. This spreads both moisture and heat consistently throughout the breast.

Duck breast should be still pink in the middle. If you cook it too much the meat will dry out.

There will be quite a bit of delicious duck fat left on the roasting tray. Use it to coat any vegetables you may be serving with the duck.


Recipe for cooking duck breast


Per person you’ll need:


  • 1 duck breast – 160-170g/6 oz with skin still on
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 tsps red vermouth
  • 1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
  • Indonesian long pepper
  • butter


  1. Season the duck breast with freshly ground pepper and put it in a freezer bag with the oil, vermouth; crushed garlic and salt; and the herbs. Mix well, secure, and either freeze, or leave in the fridge for a day or two.
  2. Heat your oven to 210°C and switch the grill up to high.
  3. Make three or four slashes (depending on the size of the duck breast) through the skin and some of the fat below, but not all the way through.
  4. Butter a non-stick flattish baking tray (or line the tray with foil and butter the foil).
  5. Place the breast non-skin side down on the tray, pour any remaining marinade over it.
  6. Put under the grill for eight minutes – the fat should be starting to run, the skin should be crisping and golden, the slits open, it should just be beginning to char.
  7. Take out and check the breast is cooked through – slice into it – it should still be pink in the middle. If it’s still too rare but it back in the oven for a couple of minutes – it shouldn’t need longer.
  8. Cover with foil and leave to rest for 5-8 minutes – this is essential for duck.
  9. Serve either whole, or slice thinly on the diagonal.


how to grill duck breasts

It’s fine if it gets a little charred