slow roasted duck

This is a recipe for a slow roasted duck or pato recheado. The recipe comes from Goa, and is another dish to thank the Portuguese for. The recheado masala is a classic Portuguese-inspired ingredient.

The British in India loved this. Goa has wild ducks, and they could go out to shoot their own dinner. More important was the Portuguese influence on Indian cuisine which made this, if not familiar, at least a recognisable dish. It also has chillies, which the British adored.

The British influence on this Portuguese dish is the onion gravy that it is served with. When you get to the recipe you will see it certainly isn’t your expected British onion gravy. Duck fat, masala and stock do not normally feature in British gravies.

From our family’s perspective, this was a special occasion dish. Duck was not readily available at that time in Calcutta. This was a dish that needed planning and preparation.

This is a quite simple recipe, no more difficult than any slow roasted dish. From a cook’s perspective, all you really need to worry about is the 30 minute basting periods.

If you are planning to make this, be aware the duck needs overnight marination in the masala. Further, if you intend to make your own masala, and why wouldn’t you, then that masala needs at least overnight to prepare. Yes, you can buy the masala from an Indian grocer – or you could do it yourself using our recheado masala recipe.

Scoring the skin will help the duck release fat easier and help create a crispy skin. You need to avoid slicing through to the meat, which will cause the duck to lose moisture. Use a very sharp knife, and be gentle. You might need to slice a few times to get the cut just right. If preparing this for the first time, be aware you can’t really make a big mistake. Cutting too shallow is preferable to cutting too deep.

For the modern audience, I have left out the instructions where my grandmother describes how to remove shotgun pellets.

We never serve this with rice. In Goa this would be served with sanna, or idli as they are more commonly known. I would also serve this with a salad, like spinach and cucumber to provide a balanced meal. The idli are ideal for soaking up the gravy, the duck stands on its own, and the spinach salad helps restore the palate.

the recipe

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  • Remove and discard duck neck and giblets if included. Wash the duck inside and out and carefully dry with kitchen towels.
  • Use a sharp paring knife to cut the duck skin on the breast and thighs, each cut about one cm apart. Be careful to just cut the skin, and not into the flesh. 
  • Rub the duck inside and out with the salt.
  • Cover the duck with some recheado masala, and work well into the skin. Fill the cavity with the remaining recheado masala. Close the cavity and use toothpicks to secure it. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
  • Cover, refrigerate and marinate at least overnight.

to cook

  • Remove duck from refrigerator and allow at least two hours to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 130C, using conventional mode. Do not use fan assistance.
  • Peel the onions and remove the stalk and root ends. Halve the onions into two thick slices each. Place these into the middle of a roasting dish, being careful to not allow them to separate. These will act as a stand for the duck.
  • Place the duck, breast side down, on top of the onions in the roasting dish. Carefully pour one cup of water into the side of the pan, ensuring you don’t wash away any of the marinade on the duck. Place any leftover marinade from the marinating dish on top of the duck. Place into the oven.
  • After one hour, and every 30 minutes after that, take the duck out of the oven and using a tablespoon, pour the pan juices over the duck, then return it to the oven.
  • After two hours, turn the duck on its back and cook for a further one hour, basting after 30 minutes.
  • Turn oven to its highest setting. Remove duck from oven, baste, as above and return the duck to oven for a further 15 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and golden brown.
  • Remove the duck from the oven, place breast side up onto the serving dish, untie the legs, cover loosely with aluminium foil and allow to rest for about 20 minutes. The skin will get crisper as it rests.

for the gravy

  • Pour the pan juices, but not the onion, into a one-litre glass measuring bowl and place into a refrigerator for ten minutes. This will help the duck fat separate from the rest of the juices.
  • Once the juices have sufficiently separated, use a small ladle to remove the duck fat until there is about ½ cup left. Set the removed duck fat aside and reserve for another use. See the notes, below.
  • Place the contents of the measuring jug, the roasted onion and any remaining pan juices into a blender. Be careful if scraping the roasting dish to not include any burnt material.
  • Carefully open the duck cavity, and remove about one tablespoon of the recheado masala and add this to the blender.
  • Add the vegetable stock to the pan juices, masala and onion in the blender and puree to a smooth paste.
  • Pour this puree into a small pan, and bring to a simmer. Do not allow it to boil. Transfer to a serving jug.

to serve

  • Serve the whole roast duck with the jug of gravy on the side.


  • Scoring the skin will help the duck release its fat and create a crisp skin. Be very careful to cut just the skin, not the flesh.
  • Wild duck does not have the same amount of fat layered under the skin as a commercial duck. If using a wild duck do not score the skin as specified. Equally, there may not be much fat to remove when making the sauce.
  • A commercial duck of the specified size will release up to 2 cups of duck fat. The reserving step will likely give you about one cup of duck fat. Be aware that it will be strongly flavoured by the recheado masala.

private notes

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Serving: 225 g | Calories: 559 kcal | Carbohydrates: 6 g | Protein: 15 g | Fat: 51 g | Saturated Fat: 17 g | Cholesterol: 95 mg | Sodium: 1012 mg | Potassium: 314 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 4 g | Vitamin A: 5545 IU | Vitamin C: 9 mg | Calcium: 69 mg | Iron: 3.9 mg

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