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History Cookbook: Boiled Duck with Onion Sauce

This recipe is in categories Georgians / Regency, Main courses
About this recipe
Healthiness : (793 votes)
Comments: This is quite a slow dish to prepare. The timings and amounts of liquid may need some adjusting as you go along.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes (spread over the cooking time)
Cooking Time: 90 minutes
Number of servings: 4 adult portions
Serving suggestions: Serve with seasonal vegetables. Originally it was served with bread sippets(triangles of toasted or fried bread) .

This recipe is taken from English Housewifry-1764. Below is how the original recipe was written down.

"Take two fat ducks and season them and skewer them up at both ends;take four or five large onions and boil them in milk and water, when they are enough chop them very small and rub them through (a sieve) with a spoon, 'till you have rubbed them quite through, then melt a little butter, put in your onions and a little salt and pour it upon your ducks."

Boiling the ducks makes them very tender and moist and not at all fatty. The onion sauce is piquant (sharp in taste) and has a creamy mellow flavour which goes well with the duck.
For the main dish:

  • 2 wild ducks or one domestic duck
  • 2 bay leaves, 6 juniper berries and salt and pepper to season.
For the sauce:
  • 3-4 medium onions
  • 8-10 cloves
  • 1/2 pint (275 ml)of milk
  • 1/2 (275ml) pint of water
  • 2oz butter
  • Knife
  • Measuring jug
  • Weighing scales
  • Large pan
  • Chopping board
  • Sieve
  • Wooden spoon
  • Large serving platter
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Season the ducks with a little salt and pepper
  2. Place them in a pan deep enough for the duck to float a little. Fill with approx 2-3 pints (1100-1600ml)of water
  3. Bring the water to the boil and then cover and simmer until the ducks are done (around 60-90 minutes)adding more water if the level gets to low
    NB To ensure the meat is thoroughly cooked, turn the ducks over 2-3 times, make sure the breast side faces down for the majority of the cooking time. The ducks are done when the meat is firm and begins to pull away from the bone and when the meat juices are clear
  4. Whilst the duck cooks, peel the onions and stick the cloves into the onion
  5. Place these whole in a pan and add the milk and water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the onion flesh is soft right through (approximatley 30 minutes). The milk may look curdled, this is fine
  6. Spoon the onions onto a chopping board, remove the cloves and roughly chop. This is easier if you let them cool enough to be handled
  7. The onions should be rubbed through a sieve to puree but using a food processor takes the work out
  8. Puree the onions and put the puree in a clean pan. Set aside until the ducks are ready
  9. Once the ducks are cooked, use forks to remove them from the water, let them stand to drain for a few minutes
  10. Add the butter to the onion sauce and warm through
  11. Assemble the dish by putting the ducks on a serving platter and spooning the onion sauce over and serve
Boiled Duck with Onion Sauce - print view  Boiled Duck with Onion Sauce - print view

If you tried this recipe and liked it, tell us about it
There are 11 comments for this recipe.
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Name: Jann Keightley 30th July 2018
I put it in pastry. It was fantastic!
Name: Jamie-Lee Houston 16th December 2012
i am a duck and am offended by cooking me
Name: Tera Garcia 29th November 2012
The sauce sounds good but I just let the onions get soft and didn't let the milk get cured and then put the onions in a blender with the cloves and a little of the milk blended it and mixed it back with the rest of the sauce In pan and when duck got done just drained the water from it and poured the sauce over the duck.
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