potted duck

heston blumenthal's potted duck

It’s been something of a duck week. I nearly picked up two duck breasts at the weekend, but when they cost £7 and a whole duck cost £8, it seemed a false economy (as buying meat portions almost always is). So after enjoying some lovely roasted duck breasts with red wine sauce and sauté potatoes, what to do with the rest of the duck?

Heston had a bloomin’ good suggestion in Heston at Home: potted duck. Being a Heston recipe, it has quite a few stages of curing and confiting, and I got bored waiting for it so tossed aside the smoking stage at the end. I can’t say I miss it; there’s mountains of flavours rolling along in waves as you munch down through rich, soft meat.

If you have some duck legs knocking about – and let’s face it, who hasn’t… – you could do much worse than piling this into a nearby kilner jar. So here’s what I did based on Heston’s recipe, smoking stage removed and all.

Potted duck (can serve about 8, depending on how generous you are – it’s pretty rich):

9 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

5 black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

Zest of 1 orange

60g salt

2 duck legs

500g duck fat

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 cloves of garlic

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns and bay leaves on a baking tray and roast for 5 minutes. Tip the lot into a pestle and mortar with the salt and orange and pound to dust. Rub all over the duck legs, store in a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, put your slow cooker on low. Add the duck fat, rosemary and garlic and allow to melt. Thoroughly rinse the duck legs and pat dry. Add to the slow cooker and top up with oil if required to cover the legs. Slow cook for 18 hours.
  3. Remove the duck legs from the fat and shred with two forks. Pack into a ramekin or kilner jar, and pour over a little of the cooking fat (save the rest for roast potatoes or pork belly). Refrigerate for a couple of hours then serve with your best toast, pickles and chutney (I used a fig chutney like this).


  • That sounds so easy! I think it’s time for me to break down and buy a slow cooker. I’ve been resisting because it seemed like one more kitchen item I might never use, but I’m coming around to the idea.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • I know they are the devil, but Tesco do a slow cooker for about £9. At that price it must be worth a punt. When you get into the habit of leaving it on in the morning when you leave the house and coming back to a kitchen bursting with delicious smells, you will be won over. I use mine a lot, more this time of year of course and if it broke I would replace it straight away.

      I have loads of slow cooker-friendly recipes on here, so just shout if you want ideas.

  • Pingback: How to Make Heston’s Potted Duck with Date, Fig and Apple Chutney Recipe : In Search Of Heston

  • We made this at the weekend and it was great. Everyone loved it.
    We did only use 5 star anise though as not big aniseed fans and a few more black peppercorns. I’d also say you could knock the salt down to 50g and it’d be fine (at first we were worried as it tasted very very salty when it first came out of the slow cooker (we cooked for 20 hours but only because we were out!) but after being in the fridge it was absolutely fine).
    We bought a whole duck and used the 2 legs and all the other bits (other than the breasts) and this fed 6 people very well (I’m sure you could eek it out to 8 people – but I like to feed people up!! I think if you just used only 2 legs it wouldn’t give each person much of a portion?)

    Great recipe, just a few tweaks for our personal taste and appetites – but thanks for sharing 🙂

    • The salt in the first stage acts as a conduit for the flavours. Yes it is a lot of salt but it aids in transfer to get the seasonings into the meat – this is known as dry brining. You should rinse the excess salt off thoroughly once the curing stage is finished.

      Good call on the star anise, it can be an acquired taste. And the portions are very much a guidance depending on whether you serve it as a snack, starter or even a main course with pickles, toast, crudites etc. Maybe I had really chunky duck legs!

      Thanks for stopping by Sarah, I’m glad you like it.

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