Slow-Roasted Duck Legs with Gravy

November 14, 2020
3 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 4 hours
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe is for people looking for an alternative to roasting a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, and the recipe is modeled after Erin Jeanne McDowell's Slow-Roasted Turkey (also on Food52!). You can adapt this technique to pretty much any bird, and the roasting temperature is so low that it's almost impossible to ruin. So go ahead, wing it, and have a great 2020 Thanksgiving wherever you are! —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • For the Duck Legs:
  • 4 duck legs
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 sprigs sage
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine or rosé
  • For the Gravy:
  • 1 pound chicken bones or 2 chicken thighs
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and thickly sliced
  • Small handful of sage, rosemary and thyme sprigs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1. The day before roasting, line a sheet pan with paper towel. Generously season the duck legs all over with salt. Lay the legs skin-side-up on the paper towel and put the sheet pan, uncovered, in the fridge to allow the skin to dry out a bit.
  2. The next day, heat your oven to 250 F. Transfer the duck legs, skin-side-up to a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Tuck a mixture of shallots, lemon, garlic, and the herbs under each duck leg. Season the duck legs with pepper, then drape the sliced butter on top of the legs. Pour the wine into the base of the pan (not over the duck legs), and place the pan in the oven. Roast, basting every 30 to 60 minutes, until the duck skin is golden and the meat is just tender -- this will take about 3 hours.
  3. Once the duck is tender, raise the oven heat to 375 F. Baste the duck again and continue roasting until the skin is a dark golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  4. During this last bit, prep the chicken for the gravy. Put the chicken bones in a deep saute pan. Season with salt and sprinkle with olive oil. Roast the chicken alongside the duck until the chicken bones have browned and there are lots of great drippings in the pan, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. When the duck is done cooking, remove from the oven. At this point, you can make the gravy and serve the duck, but you can also let the duck legs cool and serve them another day, reheating them, uncovered, in a 250 F oven. Either way, finish making the gravy now!
  6. When the chicken bones are done, transfer the saute pan to the stove. Add 6 cups of water, along with the shallots and herbs. Bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Transfer the duck legs to a serving dish. Remove the rack from the roasting pan, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the duck fat, and fish out any bits that are burned (likely the herbs). Place the roasting pan over medium heat. When it's hot, stir in the flour, and scrape up the pan drippings. Cook for a minute to toast the flour, then ladle in the broth. I added about 4 cups -- add according to how thick a gravy you want. Bring to a simmer and let cook for a few minutes until the gravy is silky and shiny. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  8. Serve your super-crisp duck with the gravy, and pass the mashed potatoes!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • luvcookbooks
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

6 Reviews

AntoniaJames August 4, 2023
So glad this recipe showed up on my friends' activity feed. How did I miss it?! I'm seriously considering skipping the Thanksgiving Day turkey altogether this year, making this instead. ;o)
luvcookbooks August 4, 2023
It’s a great recipe (didn’t make the gravy).
AntoniaJames August 5, 2023
That sour cherry sauce sounds perfect!! ;o)
luvcookbooks August 5, 2023
Interested to hear how the Thanksgiving duck turns out if you try it!
luvcookbooks August 2, 2023
Making this for the second time. In lieu of gravy, serving with sour cherry sauce. Simple and so good! Plus, duck fat latkes in my future! I have found it challenging to cook duck well, this is the second recipe that has turned out well for me. (The first is Melissa Clark NYT) Thank you!
Amanda H. August 3, 2023
Glad it worked out! I hear you with duck -- technique matters a lot. Thanks for your comment!