Duck with Port, Prunes, and Pearl Onions

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

I find the colors of this dish very pretty: the rich red of the port, the deep blackish purple of the prunes, and the golden brown of the caramelized onions remind me of autumn. Serve this with roasted potatoes and sautéed Swiss chard.


  • tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ducks, about 5 pounds each, necks and wing tips removed, excess fat removed, and rendered if desired (see Note 3)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 24 pearl onions
  • 3 tablespoons butter (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • 24 pitted prunes, or more if you love them
  • 2 cups port, preferably Ficklin or Quady
  • cup Duck or Chicken Stock, reduced to cup
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest


Preheat the oven to 500°F. Make a paste with a mortar and pestle of the garlic, cinnamon, and lemon juice; rub it in the cavities of the ducks. Place the ducks on racks in shallow roasting pans. Sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Let stand until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, peel the onions and trim the root ends carefully, leaving the ends intact. Cut an X in each root end so that the onions don’t telescope when cooked. Simmer the onions in a large pot of salted water until tender but not mushy, 5 to 7 minutes; drain. If you like, sauté them in the butter and sugar until glazed to a rich brown color.

Put the prunes in a small saucepan, add ½ cup port, and heat to simmering over medium heat. Remove the prunes from the heat and let stand until plump, about 10 minutes.

Pour the remaining port into a small saucepan. Boil over medium heat until reduced to ½ cup. Add the reduced stock, the orange juice and zest, and remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Simmer several minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the prunes in port and the onions.

Cut the ducks into quarters and warm in a 400°F oven about 4 minutes. Heat the sauce to simmering. Arrange 2 duck quarters on each of 4 serving plates and spoon the sauce over top.