Vanilla & orange slow roasted duck legs

Photographer: Emma
Serves 4

Several months ago I bought a whole duck.  Up until this point I had never cooked duck so it was with trepidation that I finally pulled it out of the freezer and set about cooking it for dinner one Sunday afternoon.  I cooked it in a low oven over a period of 5 hours and it was delicious – beautifully tender meat and golden, crispy skin.  It was so good in fact that it inspired the recipe that follows. Seeing as it is a Christmas recipe, I wanted to give the duck warm, spicy flavours so paired orange with cinnamon and vanilla.  To accompany the duck I found inspiration from the recently published Noma cookbook and made a quick salad of carrot ribbons and thyme flowers on top of which I sat the duck.  What is great about this recipe is that it is very easy to prepare and will be sure to impress your guests.


4 duck legs, skin on but trimmed of any excess fat
2 oranges, juiced
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1 tsp vanilla
10 peppercorns

Pan juices
2 oranges, juiced

4 carrots, peeled
1 orange, juiced
2 tsp thyme flowers (you can substitute these for leaves if you can’t get flowers)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil


1. Marinate the duck legs in the orange juice, cinnamon, vanilla and peppercorns overnight. Keep the orange halves and add these too.
2. Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F). Using a sharp knife pierce the duck skin all over, then place legs skin-side down on a wire rack. Place half a cinnamon stick, a few peppercorns and an orange half onto each duck leg. Reserve the liquid for basting.
3. Place the wire rack in the oven (near the top element) and place a baking tray underneath to collect the fat that pours out in surprising volumes! Cook for 2 hours, basting (spooning the liquid over the legs) every half hour or so.
4. In the last half hour of cooking, turn the legs over so that the skin can crisp up and turn golden.

1. Tip the fat out of the baking tray and add to this the juice of 2 oranges, season with salt and pepper.
2. Place on the stove top and heat through until a dark jus forms.

1. Using a good, sharp peeler, run the length of the carrots, creating long ribbon-like strips. You could do this using a mandolin should you have one.
2. Mix together the orange juice, oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper and pour over the carrots. Leave in the fridge for half an hour to marinate.
3. Remove carrot from the fridge and mix through the thyme flowers.

To Assemble
1. Divide the salad between 4 plates, place a duck leg on each and pour over the jus.