Braised Duck Thighs

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By James Peterson

Published 1991

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Restaurants are often stuck with leftover thighs. In fact, the thighs can make an even more impressive dish than the breasts; they just take a little more time. This recipe offers two approaches. The thighs can be gently roasted, skin side up, until they tenderize in their own juices. Alternatively, the roasted thighs can be moistened with liquid, covered, and slowly braised in the oven or on the stove.


moulard duck thighs or pekin duck thighs 6 or 12 6 or 12
salt and pepper to taste to taste
onion, sliced 1 large 1 large
carrot, sliced 1 large 1 large
garlic cloves, crushed 2 2
red wine (optional) 1 cup 250 ml
unsalted chicken stock, preferably brown chicken stock (optional) 1 qt 1 L
large bouquet garni (optional) 1 1


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Season the thighs with salt and pepper and arrange them, skin side up, in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan on top of the onions, carrots, and garlic. Roast until the skin is golden brown and the thighs are easily penetrated with a skewer, about 60 minutes for Pekin thighs or 90 minutes for moulard thighs. The thighs can be served immediately (in essence they’ve braised in their own juices) or braised, continuing with step 2.
  2. To continue braising, turn the oven down to 300°F (150°C). Transfer the thighs to a plate and strain the liquid into a narrow container, leaving the vegetables behind in the strainer. Skim off any fat that floats to the surface and discard. Arrange the cooked vegetables in the pan and place the thighs, skin side up, on top.
  3. Add the wine and stock, nestle in the bouquet garni, and bring to a gentle simmer on top of the stove. Cover the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and press the foil down so it almost touches the tops of the thighs.
  4. Cover the pan and simmer very gently, on top of the stove or in the oven, for 1 hour for Pekin thighs or 90 minutes for moulard thighs. Check the oven every 20 minutes or so to make sure the braising liquid isn’t boiling.
  5. Transfer the thighs, still skin up, into a clean pan that fits them in a single layer as closely as possible. Turn the oven to 400°F (200°C). Strain the braising liquid into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer with the pan to one side of the heat source. Skim off the fat with a ladle while you simmer the liquid for about 15 minutes.
  6. Pour the degreased braising liquid over the thighs and slide them back in the oven. Baste every 10 minutes until the thighs are covered with a shiny glaze and the braising liquid is syrupy. Serve in heated soup plates surrounded with the braising liquid. The duck thighs can be garnished with vegetables.