The ‘Dodine de Canard’ Fiasco

I am a massive fan of Masterchef – MASSIVE! I find the psychology behind competitive cooking fascinating. If you can cook and provide food for yourself and others, then you are essentially a successful human being. Therefore, the people competing on Masterchef, I feel, are competing to be the most successful human being. Maybe a little dramatic, but I’m still literally sat on the edge of my seat each episode.

Anyhoo, Michael Roux Jr recorded two ‘classics masterclass’ shows to accompany the series. One of the dishes was ‘Dodine de Canard’ – a beautiful boned duck, stuffed with all kinds od delicious meat. Obviously it took about 3 minutes to prepare on TV and looked beautiful.

With New Year’s Eve approaching and 16 people to cook for, this was like a red flag to a bull. Brilliant. I’ll go onto BBC Food and get the recipe. Nope! Hmmmm, I’ll go on to google and get a recipe. Nope! I’ll look through all my cookbooks – NOPE! Ah.

Being somewhat ambitious, I decided that the lack of recipe would not hold me back. I watched the masterclass over and over again, figuring that I would order the meat I needed based on the portion sizes used in the episode. Luckily, there were plenty of other people with the same idea as me, and I used their blogs to help me out.

I also managed to track down an actual recipe in Larousse Gastronomique – which was photographed and text to me by my Chef brother!

I mished the two recipes together and came up with this:

Warning: This takes three days to prepare!

I bought two ducks – they were both fairly large, about 2.5KG each.

The ingredients shown below will stuff ONE large duck:

2 tablespoons of mead

Pinch ground fennel seeds

250g bacon fat

250g lean pork

250g chicken livers (also marinated in 2tbsp mead)

250g button mushrooms

50 breadcrumbs

Handful chopped parsley


Bone out the duck. I left most of the breast meat and leg meat on, just because I love duck! The meat off the carcass I added to the mincemeat.

De-boned Duck

I crushed the fennel seeds, mixed them with salt, pepper and mead and rubbed it into the duck skin. This had to go in the fridge for 24 hours to allow the flavours to seep in.

The next day, I minced the pork fat, pork meat, chicken livers and mushrooms and mixed this with the parsley and breadcrumbs. Season and cook off a small amount to test the flavour.

Mincing – 80’s style!

Stuff the duck with the mincemeat and then sew it back together (this bit is fun!) If you had any accidental holes from boning you can sew them back together now, but remember how many pieces of string you need to  remove later.

Stuffed and ready to be sewn up

Successful duck surgery!

I tied the front legs together to give shape, scored the skin and rubbed in a couple of teaspoons of sea salt.

Trussed up and ready for cooking

I cooked the duck slowly in the oven,and in the last hour basted it in honey. This gives an amazing flavour to the skin and gives a really deep caramel colour to the duck. This now needs to rest in the fridge for 24 hours to allow all the meat to ‘set’.

A lot of fat will come out of the duck during cooking, and I drained this out of the roasting dish – saving and freezing it for future roast potatoes obviously!

I served it as a starter on New Year Eve, with oatcakes and some proper posh boozy chutney – it was delicious and such a great talking point.

Dodine de Canard

As I had the duck meat on the legs, the pregnant members of our party could indulge minus the pate. definitely a winner if you have fussy eaters as some people are not pate fans!

This was one of the most fun dishes I have ever made – and definitely one of the most delicious. I planned to cook this as a once-in-a-lifetime dish, as it is expensive and takes so long…. however, I will definitely be cooking this again – it was fab-u-lous darling!

Carving the Dodine de Canard


10 thoughts on “The ‘Dodine de Canard’ Fiasco

  1. I thought my mini Christmas beef wellingtons were impressive but this is amazing! And speaking of competitive cooking I REALLY hope you’ve seen Iron Chef America, so over the top but so, so good!

  2. I assume you made stock with the duck carcass. Did you baste the duck with just the fat from the pan and then later the honey? Was it just plain honey? Thanks!!

  3. We just made Dodine of duck stuffed with pistachio, and it was very good.

    As the young Gressingham duck was more of a duckling size, and with little fat, we added the breasts of a pheasant to pack out the bird and avoid too much stuffing. This resulted in the profile of the slices being less than symmetrical. However, this is perhaps too self-critical.

    Do make sure that the nuts are fully incorporated in the stuffing to get an even amount throughout the finished bird. Again, this comes down to the desire to have a pleasingly symmetrical slice on the plate.

    Having made the duck using Michel Roux Jr’s recipe, I think we can assume that his was poached. He does not indicate this method of cooking on the Masterchef clip we found on youtube. However, to get a pale colour to the skin one would have to do so.

    We followed a slow roasting method (140C in a fan oven) and the skin naturally browned as the bird cooked. Poaching in stock may produce a richer result, perhaps. Hence the slim slice Michel placed on his plate, no doubt.

    I will dig out my Larousse Gastronomique and check other variants. We also will reduce the cooking juices to make a jelly to add to the left overs!

    Serving the dodine de canard with pickled vegetables is also an excellent idea, as the meat is very rich.

    It is certainly a worthwhile dinner party dish. For the sake of presentation we removed the wings, as they were a little too brown (black!).

      • Indeed, the pheasant breasts were moist and benefited from the fat from the pork etc stuffing. Without them the small duck breasts would have been overwhelmed by the stuffing.

        We discovered that a superb juicy jelly can improve the dish. Take the vegetables that have been cooked under the bird. Skim any fat. Strain the liquid. Bring to the boil and reduce by half its volume. Allow to cool then add gelatine and stir. Add some brandy. Cool.

        We suggest you put the jelly under the sliced meat. This will give the combined meat and stuffing a lighter texture whilst retaining a clean and artistic appearance on the plate.

        I occasionally make a seven bird roast, which is very fiddly with all the little birds to bone out and stuff one inside another (like Russian dolls). Something we call a Yorkshire Pie (although there may be other names for it).

        ‘Yorkshire Pie’ principally benefits the people who get the two or three slices from the centre. The number of types of meat from the birds diminishes as one slices away from the centre, of course. So the last to be served may only get the large duck or turkey that is the outside meat.

        I would recommend the Dodine above a several bird roast in terms of time of preparation alone. The wow factor of a very impressive or complex dish intimidate some guests who might be at a loss as to what they might cook for a return dinner party! The answer to that is that so long as the company is good, a simple (and slow cooked) stew can be as enjoyable. A casserole, such as bœuf bourguignon, is an ideal stand by to have in the freezer in case of emergencies, in any event.

        Indeed, with a number of competitive sorts (regrettably, the women seem to be the worst for this, it has to be said), we find that we are taken to restaurants, rather than presented with their home entertaining. Sad, but true.

        We hope you have a suitably wonderful New Year’s Eve menu planned!

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