Fresh whole duck is becoming easier to find in grocery stores these days, and yet I’m not sure most people are quite comfortable with the idea of roasting one. If you’re duck-curious, give it a go – the only difference, really, is that you need to poke holes in the skin before you stick it in the oven, to allow the excess layer of fat under the skin to render off. (This is why ducks look perfectly content paddling around in freezing rivers at this time of year – my own built-in insulation doesn’t seem to have the same effect.) As a bonus, you get to pour those drippings off into a jar and keep them in the fridge to roast potatoes with. Duck fat is like liquid gold – in fact you’d pay more for a teeny jar of it at many gourmet shops as you would for an entire duck.
People tend to associate duck with l’orange, a fancy-pants restaurant item that was trendy in the ’60s, so if you want to tuck a halved orange in the cavity, add it along with a handful of fresh herbs. I like to add these after a bit of time in the oven, so that they don’t start flavouring the fat – but if you don’t mind, go ahead and tuck it all in right off the bat. And if you want to roast some veg – potatoes and root veggies work well – toss them around in the rendered fat already in the bottom of the pan about halfway through the cooking time.