To Roast Ducks

With the weather turning warmer, it’s hard to imagine cooking over the fire as we did several weeks ago when there was a drop in the temperature. With my arm out of the sling, finally, I have begun to type with both hands. The right is still a little shaky so I have to keep my post a bit short. However, I did not want to go too long between them.

There is not much to say about duck with the exception that wild duck in the 1700s may not have been as plump as our store bought one. And, did the farm-grown “Dung Hill Fowl” have as good a diet as they have now. This reminds me of a duck dinner many years ago.

My brother, being a hunter-gatherer, shot a goose flying over his house. He roasted this goose in the oven at a large family gathering. Well, roasting a goose was new to him, and when my husband and I arrived with the baked ham, the smoke was so thick we had to duck to see where everyone was. Needless to say, we all learned a thing or two about cooking geese. Duck, like geese, has a lot of fat and before you bake it, it is advised that you steam it first. This Allan did with ours and ended up with several cups of duck fat.

I used the receipt “To Roast Ducks” from The Complete Housekeeper and Professional Cook by Mary Smith, 1772, and combined it with Sauce Madame. We assembled and diced parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, an apple and garlic. This we mixed with bread crumbs and cranberries.

After mixing everything together we stuffed and trussed the duck. We wanted to make sure that when we put the skewers through the duck on the spit it would hold fast and make turning easy.

With the duck securely in place in the tin oven we basted it with butter and an orange sauce. After about 25 minutes the duck was a golden brown and ready for the table.

The duck was served with the Sauce Madam, Spanish potatoes and our spring Fiddleheads.

I hope you have been enjoying the posts and Allan’s adventures into hearth cooking. I think he has done a wonderful job. This was a very tasty meal.

For now,


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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

4 thoughts on “To Roast Ducks

  1. Don’t you just love roasting in a tin kitchen. I think it would make a glazed old shoe taste better!

  2. I am glad to hear that you are on the mend! I’ve often thought about trying a duck on the tin kitchen for Marketfest, but the amount of grease to clean up has me slightly frightened!

    The Sauce Madame sounded nice. Where did the recipe for the orange sauce come from? What was in it?

  3. Cindi,

    I used the jucie of an orange, added salt, pepper, and garlic salt and boiled it down than added the butter.


  4. I remeber the time brother JIm roasted that duck. Great story and I know yours you just did was much better. Glad you able to keep up this blog. It is so interesting and informative.

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