Friday Random Recipe: Moroccan Spiced Roast Duck

This recipe is based on a recipe for Moroccan spiced duck breasts, from
The Soul of a New Cuisine,
Marcus Samuelsson’s new African cookbook. Chef Samuelsson is the guy who’s
responsible for getting me to eat beef after not touching the stuff for
nearly two years. He’s a very interesting guy – born in Ethiopia, but
adopted as a baby and raised in Sweden. He’s famous in NYC for being the
chef at a Swedish restaurant, called Aquavit, where he was the youngest chef
ever to get 3 stars in a New York Times restaurant review.

A few years ago, he became interested in African cuisine, and
spent a lot of time travelling around Africa, studying the cuisine. He’s
written a fantastic cookbook based on the experience. Roughly two weeks ago, he opened a new African restaurant in NYC called Mercato 55. My wife and I had dinner there last saturday, and it was fantastic.

Anyway, as I said, his book has a recipe for Moroccan spiced duck breast. It’s a bit of a fusion dish – french style seared rare duck breast, cooked with moroccan spice blends and a Moroccan orange sauce. Duck breast is too expensive for my kids, so I made his dish for me and my wife, and worked out this variation for my kids. I actually think I like the variation a bit more – the flavor of the spices penetrates the duck much more nicely in a well-done roast duck. I’ve also simplified the recipe a bit.


  • Two ducks
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 2 cinammon sticks
  • Several large onions
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chilled butter


  1. Put all of the dry spices together into a hot pan, and stir around until they become fragrant. Then move them to a blender or food processor, and grind them to a coarse powder.
  2. Mince the garlic and one half of the onion.
  3. Put the orange juice into a pot with the garlic, onion, and spices, and
    heat to a simmer. Let it simmer about ten minutes, and then cool to room temperature.
  4. Take 2 ducks, cut out the back, and press flat. Cut a light crosshatch pattern
    over the skin of the breasts, and trim off excess fat. Sprinkle with kosher salt, and then lay them out in a large roasting pan.
  5. Put the orange-juice mixture through a fine sieve, and then pour it over
    the ducks. Let it sit for at least two hours.
  6. Remove 3/4ths of the marinade from the roasting pan, leaving the remainder in the pan. Keep the marinade – we’re going to cook it into a sauce later.
  7. Cut several 1-inch thick slices of onion, and set them up as stands in the roasting pan. Set the ducks on top of the onions.
  8. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the ducks in, and cook for 2 to 3 hours. (It’s important to let it cook for a long time. Duck is terrific rare, and it’s terrific when it’s been cooked for a very long time; it’s tough as leather in between. We’re going for the meltingly tender well-roasted duck here.) Every half hour, baste the duck with the marinade in the pan. If the pan starts to get dry, and a cup of water.
  9. When the duck is done, finely mince half an onion, a clove of garlic, and a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley. Put the onion and garlic into a saucepot with the reserved marinade. Heat to a simmer, and let it cook at a low simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Then add the parsley, and salt to taste.
  10. Right before serving, turn the heat off on the sauce, and add two tablespoons of cold butter, whipping it in with a whisk. This should turn the sauce a little bit thicker, and give it a nice glossy appearance.

0 thoughts on “Friday Random Recipe: Moroccan Spiced Roast Duck

  1. Donalbain

    Hah! You can’t fool us! We know you only posted this obviously Muslim recipe to throw us off the scent. We still know that you are a Christian hating Joo!

  2. ArtK

    Wow! This sounds excellent. We’ve been eating quite a bit of duck this year, having found a supply of very fresh birds at our farmer’s market. Combine this with a love of Moroccan food and we’ve got a winner here!
    Thanks Mark!

  3. g

    Did he really name his book after Tracy Kidder’s, or is there some other thing that both titles are referencing?

  4. Kyle

    There you go, slipping in the kosher salt again! Christians unite! Ban kosher salt!
    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I was trying to think of something stupider to criticize the recipe for, but there really isn’t anything. In fact, just thinking about someone trying to criticize you for “slipping kosher salt in” to your recipes or whatever is laughable, and yet makes me angry.
    Anyway, this might be the first time I’ve ever seen a duck recipe. I will try it out, I think. I have never had duck before; only duck-billed platypus. Just kidding.

  5. Mu

    The food safety fanatics are going to crucify you too, for using a poultry marinade in the sauce. Viel Feind, viel Ehr’.
    As a lover of steak tartar I couldn’t care less, looking forward to trying it.

  6. Mark C. Chu-Carroll

    I thought that wasn’t an issue if the sauce was cooked well.
    If you’re making a quick sauce, one that basically just gets heated and served, then using the marinade is a safety issue. But if you’re letting it boil for 15 minutes, that should pretty well take care of any bacteria.

  7. Joy

    I made this on Saturday – made it with Moroccan cauliflower and parsley as a side dish and it was a big hit with everyone.
    Afterwards, I poured off the grease from the roasting pan and scraped the rest of the drippings into a pot, where I had the backs, necks, and giblets simmering for hours.
    I recovered the meats and poured off the liquid into jars, temporarily, and went through the solids three times to recover the meat and weed out the bones. Lots of small bones. (Use your fingers when you do – most you won’t be able to see.)
    Then I took a fresh onion and sliced it thin and started making French Onion Soup (by Joy of Cooking recipe). Once it was fairly well started, I dumped the leftover onions from the roasting pan and continued on with the recipe. A quarter cup of good white wine, reduced, seasoned with thyme and rosemary, then add back in the broth and the meat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
    Dish into ramekins, top with crusty bread pieces (foccacia or whatever), cover with slices of swiss, asiago or havarti and broil for 5 minutes.
    Ohmygahd it was good.


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