Slow-roasted Duck with Spiced Sour Cherry Sauce

Elegant, nourishing and easy to prepare, slow-roasted duck with sour cherry sauce is one of those simple dishes that can speak volumes.   A good, local, pasture-fed duck is a hard item to find – at least it was for us.   A pasture-fed poultry operation is difficult to manage.   Predation, in our area, poses one of the greatest threats to a successful flock whether its magpies attacking young birds (I know, right, what a morbid image) or bears taking a few larger birds.   After much looking, we were fortunate to be able to find a source of local, pasture-raised (or is that pond-raised?) ducks and geese.   I have a few more birds lurking in my freezer for another special meal.

Duck is a richly flavored meat well-suited to strong accompaniments like fruit and potent spices.   Duck is a good source of monounsaturated fat – the same fat found in unrefined olive oil, avocados and pastured lard that is noted for its ability to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce the risk of heart disease.   Duck is also a rich source of niacin, riboflavin, selenium and iron as duck meat is both mineral- and vitamin-rich.

The spiced sour cherry sauce not only provides an lovely accompaniment to the rich meatiness of roast duck, but it also carries with it its own health benefits.   Indeed, sour cherries are a good source of anthocyanin – a powerful flavonoid known to fight inflammation.   The action of anthocyanin and other components present in sour cherries are so powerful that recent research indicates that sour cherries may prove so effective in reducing inflammation that they may offer hope in the fight against type II diabetes and pain associated with arthritis.

Slow-roasted Duck with Spiced Sour Cherry Sauce

By Jenny Published: September 17, 2009

  • Yield: 6 Servings

Elegant, nourishing and easy to prepare, slow-roasted duck with sour cherry sauce is one of those simple dishes that can speak volumes.


  • Ingredients for Slow-roasted Duck:
  • 1 pasture-raised Duck
  • 1/4 cup Grass-fed Ghee or Butter
  • Unrefined Sea Salt & Freshly Cracked Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 Sweet Yellow Onion
  • 1 cup Dry White Wine (or Cherry Wine if Serving with Sour Cherry Sauce)
  • Ingredients for Spiced Sour Cherry Sauce:
  • 2 cups Frozen Sour Cherries (Pitted)
  • 2 Shallots
  • 2 tbsp Grass-fed Ghee or Butter
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 2 tbsp Honey


  1. Instructions for Preparing Slow-roasted Duck:
  2. Rinse the duck well and pat it dry.
  3. With a blunt butter knife, gently separate the skin of the breast from the meat.
  4. Spread ghee (see why ghee is such a wholesome fat) or butter between the skin and meat of the duck breast.
  5. Slather the remaining ghee or butter along the skin of the duck's breast, legs and thighs.
  6. Stuff the duck's cavity with the sweet, yellow onion.
  7. Pour the wine into the roasting pan and roast the duck at 325 º F for 4 hours.
  8. Increase the temperature to 375 º F for ½ hour.
  9. Allow to rest before carving and serving with sour cherry sauce (recipe follows).
  10. Instructions for Preparing Spiced Sour Cherry Sauce:
  11. Heat ghee or butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
  12. Fry the shallots until they're well caramelized.
  13. Add the sour cherries and spices and reduce the heat to medium.
  14. Once the cherries are heated through, add the honey.
  15. Allow the sauce to simmer until slightly syrupy.
  16. Serve with roast duck or roast pork.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    I used to think ducks lived on ponds – then I found out they are one of the most intensively-farmed animals ever (like all poultry are).

    It is funny how people use the word ‘conventional’ for farms that are FAR from conventional!

    I wouldn’t call a factory farm conventional…

    It is possible to buy organic UK-reared ducks locally or by mail order.

    Foxes are the main predators here, I believe.

    Thanks for all the nutritional info. I wonder how duck compares to chicken?

    And I agree – the sourness of fruit is a perfect companion (think duck a l’orange, a real trad dish in the UK).

  2. says

    I am able to get organic duck from a local kosher butcher in my area. They specialize in kosher organic meat and I get all of my meat from them (except when my husband begs for bacon. Then we have to trek over to a Whole Foods somewhere.) I got a huge duck (huge for us, anyway – the last time I got a duck was from a grocery store and it was half the size of this one) and I plan on roasting it using this recipe. I don’t have sour cherries but this recipe looks so good I’m considering scouting out some!

  3. Dale Siar says

    I am roasting a duck tonight and wish I would have stumbled on the Cherry sauce, sound great, but I am going with a spicy orange sauce, orange and siracha. I do like heat, so what about my partner :) there is a 1/2 cup of honey in it too. My recipe have me poking the bird every hour and flipping it, it ends breast down, and the 10 mins breast up at 400, 300 to start, about the same time overall. I so far have a good 3/4 cup of grease to save and use, some for the potatoes tonight. Can’t wait. Thanks for the sauce recipe, I have two more local pasture raised ducks in the freeze.

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