I love duck, 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.

The duck is placed in a steamer with lemon rind and rosemary

Place the steamer over simmering water in a wok or pan

Cover and steam for 70-85 minutes

Finally, the duck is given a quick turn in the oven to crisp the skin. It’s quick, easy and produces delicious results.

Roast for 30 minutes to make the skin crispy


1 duck, 4 lb/2kg
2 tsp(10 mL) brandy or vermouth
1/3 cup coarse salt, or 1/4 cup/75 ml table salt
4 cloves garlic, mashed
2tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh rosemary
2tsp (10 mL) pepper
1 lemon
4 sprigs 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 or up to three days. Rinse salt off duck under cold running water; dry with paper towels. Pull off excess fat in cavity. Cut off tail bone 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 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) lemon juice, squeeze remaining juice over duck. Cover and steam over medium-high heat for 70-85 minutes, adding more boiling water to  maintain level as necessary.

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. Serves 6.

From the Complete Canadian Living Cookbook