22 February 2012

Arroz de Pato

Ever had Arroz con Pollo? Of course you have!  Chicken and rice is just plain yummy.

And if you want to take yummy to the next level, try your rice with some duck.

Arroz de Pato, or Duck Rice, is a Portuguese classic. There is as much duck packed on supermarket shelves as there is chicken. I was really hesitant about buying it for a while.  I wasn't sure I would love the taste, I had read nightmares on the Interwebs about it being hard to cook the fat correctly, and it just looked so bony in person.

I finally decided to stop making excuses and try it. Girl versus duck. No fear.

Last week I picked up two tasty duck legs. And you know what? I learned again how worthwhile it is to try new things.

The flavor in this dish is amazingly rich.  The duck and chorizo fat coat the rice with a glossy sheen as it cooks.  A pinch of saffron gives it all a sunny, bright color. And the duck tastes like chicken's darker, brooding rival.

(Duck : Chicken :: Darcy : Bingley, for those of you old-school SAT analogy/Jane Austen fans.)

The real kicker for me is this top crust.  DO NOT stop baking the thing until the chorizo slices are curled at the edges and scarily dark, and the rice cracks on top like a good brulée when you cut into it.


Next time you are having a cozy casserole night, invite some friends over and try this classic-but-new dish out on them.

And give yourself an extra big serving of the crispy crust.  You earned it.

Arroz de Pato
Duck Rice
serves 4-6

4 duck legs, trimmed of excess fat
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 onions, halved
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. saffron
1/2 pound of cured chorizo, sliced
1 carrot
1 cup long-grain rice

1. Put a large ovenproof skillet over a medium heat, and once it is hot add the duck legs, skin sides down.  Let them cook, rotating them occasionally but not turning them over, for about 4-5 minutes.  Once the skin is nicely browned, turn the pieces over and sear them for 1-2 minutes on the non-skin side. Remove the duck from the pan. Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C).

2. Add the onions, garlic, butter, saffron, chorizo, and carrots to the duck fat in the skillet.  Over a medium heat, allow this cook for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are slightly soft and the chorizo has given up some delicious-looking juices. Remove everything except the onion halves with a slotted spoon, and set aside for later.

3. Add the duck back to the pan skin side up, along with enough water to come about halfway up the legs but not cover the top skin.  Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop and then put the skillet into the preheated oven.  Let it cook for about 30 minutes, then turn the heat to 350F (175C). Let it cook for about another 30 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and set the duck aside. Discard the onion halves. Turn the oven back up to 375F (190C).

4. Add enough water to the skillet broth to make about 3 cups. Over medium heat on the stovetop, bring the water to a gently boil.  Add the rice.  Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the rice is about half done.

5. While the rice is cooking, cut the duck meat into chunks.  (These do not have to look pretty, as they will be buried in the rice.)

6. Once the rice is half done, add the duck pieces and chorizo-carrot mixture into the skillet.  Stir it all together gently.  If you like, you can place some chorizo and carrot slices on top in a fanciful way.

7. Place that skillet back in the oven, and cook for about 20-30 minutes-- until the top is undeniable crusty and the chorizo pieces are curled and nearly burned on the edges. Serve immediately.


  1. I looove duck, but alas, my real-life Bingley claims he does not. I wonder if I could sneak this into dinner one night...

  2. If duck rice is on the menu, I can't go past it. I often wonder what my neighbours are doing with their ducks because it's certainly not chinese BBQ or duck a l'orange. If they are eating duck rice every night then I am eating in the wrong house! Love your blog, love that blue font. I'll be back here for inspiration frequently.

  3. I love duck legs! We eat a lot of duck in France but I never would have thought about cooking them like this... thanks for the idea! :)