Who doesn’t adore the idea of a game bird for Christmas? In the absence of a goose (which would be ideal), a large free-range duck, such as a muscovy, has a sense of theatre and a great taste to go with it. They’re also easier to source. I’ve used brandied cumquats here, but if you can’t find them, use sliced cumquats or a similar citrus (if using sweet oranges, use mostly the rind) and some brandy straight from the bottle for the marinade.






Skill level

Average: 4 (1 vote)


  • 2.5 kg muscovy duck (or similar meaty breed), cleaned
  • olive oil, to coat
  • 6 brandied cumquats (see Note), sliced, plus 50 ml brandy liquid from jar
  • 2 pieces cassia bark (see Note), broken, or 2 cinnamon quills
  • 6 star anise
  • roasted potatoes, plus other roasted or steamed vegetables, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 15 minutes

Preheat oven to 180°C. Using paper towel, pat duck dry inside and out, then rub skin and cavity with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place duck, breast side-down, in a roasting pan.

Pour cumquat brandy liquid over the duck. Place cumquats on top of duck with the cassia bark and 3 star anise. (It doesn’t matter if some bits fall off the duck into the pan.)

Roast for 40 minutes, then turn duck over and transfer star anise, cumquats and cassia bark onto breast side with remaining 3 star anise. Roast for a further 1 hour and 20 minutes, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes. Reduce heat if duck is browning too quickly.

Transfer duck to a serving plate. Rest, loosely covered with foil, for 15 minutes, before carving at the table. Skim fat from pan, then transfer juices to a jug. Serve duck with roasted potatoes, other vegetables and cooking juices.


• Brandied cumquats are available from selected delis.
 Cassia bark, available from spice shops and Asian food shops, has a similar but stronger flavour to cinnamon.


Photography Alan Benson


As seen in Feast magazine, Dec/Jan 2013, Issue 27. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here