Salmi of Duck

A dish often ordered by Victorian and Edwardian gentlemen at their clubs or for a stag dinner at home. This recipe comes from Balliol College, Oxford, and was sometimes ordered by academic gentlemen for private dinners, which were prepared in the college kitchens and sent up with due ceremony to their rooms. The birds are roasted very rare a short time before they are wanted, and then put into a sauce, in which they are gently heated. This is rather an exacting recipe but well worth the trouble and equally good, although quite different, with pheasant or partridge.


  • 2 wild or domestic ducks, roasted for 30 minutes only and allowed to cool
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Grated rind of 1 orange and 1 orange cut in quarters
  • 2 tablespoons red-currant jelly
  • cup (1.5 dl) red wine
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • ¼ lb (120 g) mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 triangular pieces of crustless bread fried crisp in butter


Carve all the meat from the ducks, the breast in long slices, the rest as you can get it away from the bone. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Put the bones in a saucepan, just cover with salted water and boil for at least 1½ hours. Strain off the stock.

Fry the onion in the butter until just transparent and golden. Stir in the flour, cook for a minute and gradually stir in the stock. Add the herbs, the nutmeg and the grated orange peel and stir in the red-currant jelly. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is as thick as double cream.

Pour and rub the sauce through a strainer into another saucepan, add the wine, brandy and the mushrooms and simmer for 5 or 6 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Check the seasoning and put in the duck. Leave on or near the lowest possible heat for another 15 minutes so that the duck pieces are heated through, but do not boil. Pour the duck and sauce into a serving dish, stick the fried bread around the edge with one corner in the sauce, and put an orange quarter near each.