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Duck Risotto

Sometimes, it can be hard for one to tell whether their life’s decisions (recipe link) have led them down the correct path, and just as occasionally, the universe will helpfully affirm that one is, indeed, doing what they are supposed to. I had this realization when a friend of ours, a manager at a popular local restaurant, asked us - unprompted - if we might enjoy a whole Peking duck. A day later, we received on our doorstep a 5 pound, gorgeously roasted, Peking duck with the requisite rice buns, accompanying sauces, and garnishes. Ducks may fall out of the sky, but not Peking ducks, and certainly not free Peking ducks on a Tuesday. Sam and I must be doing something right, and we were very grateful; find yourself a friend who gifts roast waterfowl (or whatever makes you as happy as roast waterfowl clearly makes me). This recipe is meant to honor that generosity, and provide a helpful use for the flavorful leftovers the next time you enjoy Peking duck.

The backbone of any risotto is stock, and duck makes a wonderful stock. Ducks have a lot of fat and small bones, it’s how they’re able to float, and - for our purposes - fat and bones mean flavor. For this recipe, make a stock out of the duck carcass like you normally would with a leftover chicken: root vegetables, peppercorns, bay leaves, submerged in cold water, and hours of slow, slow simmering (never boiling). Since it’s Peking duck, the stock will have a background of star anise and other Chinese spices that will give the risotto more depth. Be sure to save some of the duck skin since you’ll need that for the garnish, and while this recipe calls for blood orange zest, really any orange zest will work to cut through and balance the rich, creamy risotto.


4-6 healthy servings of risotto


  • 4 cups duck stock

  • 3 tablespoons e.v. olive oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (130g)

  • 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli Rice

  • 40g salted butter (divided into two equal chunks)

  • 125ml white wine (rec. Pinot Grigio)

  • 50g mixture parmigiano reggiano/pecorino romano cheese

  • blood orange (for zesting)

  • duck skin (for crisping)

  • s+p


1---In a large saucepan, add 4 cups of homemade duck stock. Place over medium-low heat until the stock begins to simmer.

2---Place a high-walled sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil becomes fragrant, add the chopped onion. Cook the onion until soft and beginning to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Pour in the rice and, using a silicone spatula, stir the rice around the pan for about a minute. Add one (1) chunk of butter and continue to stir, melting the butter and incorporating with the rice. Once melted, add the wine. Stir the wine, picking up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan, and reduce by about 2/3rds.

3---Add about 3 ladles of the stock to the rice, turn the heat on the rice down to low. Keep the rest of the stock simmering. The stock will be added incrementally to the rice, so it’s important to not reduce the liquid as you’ll need about all 4 cup’s worth. Continue to stir the rice to make sure no grains stick to the bottom or sides of the pan and burn.

4---The rice will absorb the liquid rather aggressively. Continue to add the stock a ladle at a time, stirring the rice slowly for a few minutes until absorbed, repeating this process until the rice is al dente or you have used all four cups of stock (this happens roughly at the same time, but it’s not always exact. Keep a tasting spoon handy to check on your rice, especially as you near the end of the stock).

5---Place the duck skin under a broiler or in a toaster oven, and crisp evenly. Set aside once crispy for garnishing.

6---When the liquid has been absorbed (or, depending on your preference, when the risotto has the appropriate balance between liquid and rice), turn off the heat, and add the remaining chunk of butter and cheese. Stir until both the butter and cheese have melted and are incorporated evenly throughout the risotto. Add salt to taste.

7---Garnish with blood orange zest and crispy duck skin before serving.

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