Bacon Wrapped Duck with Cranberry Mandarin Orange Sauce

Bacon Wrapped Duck with Cranberry Mandarin Orange Sauce

Next time you need a special-occasion meal, try roasting a duck and adding a flavorful twist with cranberry and mandarin orange
Next time you need a special-occasion meal, try roasting a duck and adding a flavorful twist with cranberry and mandarin orange. Photo by Imei Hsu.


I don’t like Turkey. There, I said it. Gawd. I don’t like turkey meat.

Even if it was cooked well, with the juices basting the meat and leaving it tender, I find that I just don’t feel the same excitement about turkey that has people jumping up and down to make the perfect turkey dinner with side dishes to feed a small neighborhood.

Just a cursory look on my Social Media feeds this week gave me a pretty clear indication that everyone else I know are sticking to the traditional Turkey Dinner and sides food theme, with a gluten-filled pie of either fruit (apple), pumpkin, or pecan, all three of which I am prohibited from inserting into my pie hole.

Needless to say, my pie hole doesn’t get much pie on my special diet.

Since this isn’t a traditional Thanksgiving Day recipe, I decided to hold off trying to create one for the blog by Thanksgiving Day Nov. 24, 2016. Instead, I present to you a roast duck recipe that you can eat any time of the year, for a special occasion, holiday feast, or whenever you get a hankering for roast duck with a nutrient-dense, AIP friendly twist.  


4-6 pound duck (special order from butcher)

8 slices of bacon, thick (I like Applewood smoked bacon)

1-bag or container of cranberries

2 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 cup finely diced carrots

1/2 cup finely diced celery (optional)

1/2   fennel bulb, diced (replaces alliums, gives texture)

3 Shitake mushrooms, finely chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 cup gluten free flour of your choice (for gravy)

Optional 1/8 cup coconut milk (full fat, for gravy)

Ordering a Duck and Duck Prep with Bacon 101

Your neighborhood grocery store meat department should be able to take your special order of whole duck if they don’t normally carry it. I would pre-order at least ten days ahead of when you need it. It should arrive to your butcher or meat department of the store cold and thawed, and it can remain thawed for up to ten more days before needing to be frozen should you not cook it right away.

To begin, preheat the oven to 350 F, and have your roasting sheet and drip pan ready.

Unlike brining a turkey, you do not need to brine a duck.  Remove the giblets (or in most cases, it will the neck of the duck, placed in paper or plastic) from inside the carcass and set aside. Then rinse the duck inside and outside with water, and pat dry with paper towels.

Place the duck breast side up on the roasting sheet with the drip pan underneath. Carefully take the wings and tuck them underneath. If you don’t know how to do this, check out this Youtube video.,  which shows you how to do this on a chicken, and how to tie up the bird if you prefer (it’s not necessary). Tucking the wings under will make sure the wings don’t get too dried out.

Finally, cover the entire duck from tail to shoulders width-wise with thick-sliced bacon. Do this. Do not skip this step. If you skip this step, you will be sorry.

No Stuffing Options

Most of the gluten free stuffing options have ingredients I cannot safely eat, so I suggest trying a stuffing-free option. If you’ve prefer to bypass putting anything complicated inside the duck, you can treat it like Engagement Chicken, and place a small lemon cut in halves inside the duck.

No Stuffing Stuffing 

Mix together carrot, celery, fennel, salt and pepper,  and spoon inside duck.

Prepare cranberry sauce with a package of cranberries, two cups of water,  two mandarin orange segments mixed in, and using the InstantPot set on manual cooking for 12 minutes, you will have fresh cranberry sauce. No need for extra sugar, but if you insist, a tablespoon of maple syrup should take a little edge off the tartness.  If you don’t have an InstantPot, follow standard instructions for cooking the cranberries on the stovetop while the duck is roasting.

Roasting the Duck

Ready to roast in the oven. Duck is truly easy to prepare and requires no basting.
Ready to roast in the oven. Duck is truly easy to prepare and requires no basting. Just after this picture was taken, I turned the wings under the bird and closed the oven door. Photo by Imei Hsu (Nov. 2016).

To finish preparing the duck for roasting, sprinkle salt, pepper, and a dried herb (sage, thyme, rosemary are excellent choices), or use lemon pepper.

Roast the duck for 1 -1/2 to 2 hours on 350F. Using a meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the meat, the duck is finished cooking when the meat has reached 180 F.

In the last five minutes of roasting, take a spoon or basting brush and paint on the bacon and exposed duck skin the maple syrup and cranberry sauce.

Remove from heat, remove the vegetables with a spoon and place on a separate dish, and cover the duck with a tent of foil.

If you cut the vegetables finely, they should be mostly cooked all the way through. If not, you will need to pan cook them the rest of the way through, making sure you have heated these thoroughly to prevent any uncooked meat juices from spoiling the vegetables.

My husband attempted to make a roux for the duck, yet ran into a challenge. I cannot have butter, nor can I have wheat. I am also avoiding nightshades for the most part, so potato starch was out. The only gluten free flours I had in the house are tapioca and coconut flour, and both were not suitable for making a sauce; in fact, when combined with the drippings from the the pan, it turned into a gloppy mess because it really does need a flour that acts like wheat. Essentially, I set my hubby up to fail without knowing it.

But before you hang you head like a glum hamster, let me just say something rather plainly:

Duck with bacon, arborio rice, roasted cauliflower, carrots and fennel, and an extra helping of cranberry and mandarin oranges complete a lovely holiday meal.
Duck with bacon, arborio rice, roasted cauliflower, carrots and fennel, and an extra helping of cranberry and mandarin oranges complete a lovely holiday meal.

Duck meat that has been roasted with almost a half a pound of thick sliced bacon is not going to need a roux or gravy; there is absolutely no dryness whatsoever in roasted duck meat!

However, if you insist on having a gravy, you are probably better off with trying a cornstarch or brown rice flour. Try a little at a time and keep stirring over low heat. I personally feel that duck meat with bacon is already quite rich and in no need for additional fat drippings. I am not, however, going to judge you if you’re a little ‘Fat Burner’ like me. We Fat Burners cannot get enough of the fat. Bring it!


What to Do with the Giblet/Neck?

Some people toss the giblets or neck of the bird. As I try to be a conscientious yet reluctant omnivore, I believe that if you eat meat, you should should not waste any part of the animal you are consuming. A good use of this meat is to pressure cook it with other bones in water and make it into stock for cooking other foods, such as arborio rice or as rice noodle base. You can freeze it for future use, or keep stock in the refrigerator up to 10 days in a well-sealed container.

My Hungry Minions, I hope I’ve given you a little something to try in the next stretch of holiday meals and social gatherings where you need to bring your own food to keep yourself healthy and safe. Let me know what you think of it when you try this one at home.

P.S. There is a nice little bonus to preparing duck for a specialty meal; the leftovers taste divine, with no dryness. I packed up some of the duck for a second dinner at my mother’s home the day after Thanksgiving, and it tasted just as good the second day as the first.





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