Duckling Quarters with Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Wild Muscovy Duck

By Cat, July 2020; ; photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons

This is another recipe from when I lived in Portland; I recorded it on a recipe card, where I found it the other day when looking for a recipe for my frozen duck breast. I believe I made this one year for dinner on Christmas Day, and it must have been delicious or I would have tossed the recipe card.

The original recipe for the pilaf uses white rice, but I far prefer to use wild rice, because unlike regular rice, it is not contaminated with arsenic. I provide both versions here, as the method for cooking the rice differs by type. NOTE: wild rice is not a true rice, but rather rice-like seeds from a plant that grows in shallow water, a common home for ducks. From Wikipedia:

“The plants grow in shallow water in small lakes and slow-flowing streams; often, only the flowering head of wild rice rises above the water. The grain is eaten by dabbling ducks and other aquatic wildlife.

I now live in NW Montana, where it can be difficult to find a whole duckling unless you are a hunter. But I can find frozen duck breasts, so that is what I will use to test this recipe.

I’ve not yet tested this adaptation of original recipe.

Duckling Quarters with Cranberry-Orange Sauce

The original recipe is baked using a whole duckling cut into quarters (half-breasts for each of two quarters; wing and leg for each of the other two quarters. It is served on top of rice pilaf,  with the cran-orange sauce spread over each quarter.

I prefer to use Steamed Wild Rice; I’ve adapted the rice pilaf recipe accordingly. If you want to use a combo of wild and Organic brown rice, see my recipe for Wild and Brown Rice Pilaf for instructions for cooking the rice.

For more information (with photos) about quartering a duck, see wikihow (1).

Serves 4.

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • Duckling:
  • 1 frozen duckling (4.5 – 5 lbs), defrosted, brined and quartered
  • ½ tsp unrefined sea salt (if not brining the duck)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • Cranberry-Orange Sauce: (makes 3 cups of sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp non-GMO cornstarch
  • ½ cup filtered water, divided
  • 1 cup Rapadura sugar or raw local honey
  • ½ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar (apple cider or red wine vinegar are suggested)
  • 2 cups whole cranberries (thawed if frozen)
  • about 2 whole Organic oranges for ¾ cup of orange sections with rind
  • Wild Rice Pilaf: (makes about 6 cups)
  • 1¼ cup whole wild rice
  • filtered water
  • ½ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • one 4½ oz jar of canned mushrooms (including the liquid)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups celery, sliced diagonally
  • ½ cup sliced green onions or scallions
  • Equipment:
  • small- and medium-size saucepans
  • cup or small bowl
  • large cast iron skillet (such as for frying chicken)
  • shallow roasting pan, with rack
  • wooden spoon


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Brine duckling. You can cut it into quarters before or after brining, but it will take more time to brine if it is whole.
  3. Cranberry-Orange Sauce: If using frozen cranberries, thaw them before using.
  4. Rinse berries well and set aside.
  5. Wash orange (pith peel-on) well, then cut into small sections and set aside.
  6. In small saucepan, combine cornstarch and ¼ cup of the water; mix well.
  7. In a cup or small bowl, combine sugar/honey, orange juice, salt, and remaining ¼ cup water and add to cornstarch mix.
  8. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
  9. Stir in vinegar, then add cranberries. Cook until their skins pop.
  10. Add orange sections (with and) and heat through.
  11. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  12. Rice Pilaf: Using the medium-size saucepan, steam the wild rice in 3 steps (see Steamed Wild Rice for details). Use:
    • filtered water to cover for the first 2 steps, then
    • a combo of filtered water and liquid from draining the canned mushrooms plus bouillon and salt for the 3rd step; cook until almost all the grains of rice have opened, showing their white interior.
  13. While rice is steaming, slice the celery and green onions.
  14. Melt butter in large skillet. Add celery and onion; cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add drained mushrooms and simmer just enough to heat the shrooms. Remove from heat (keep warm if rice is not yet ready); fold in hot steamed wild rice. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  15. Duckling: Rinse the bird if you didn’t brine it. Dry brined or rinsed duckling with cotton dishcloth or paper towels. Sprinkle all sides with salt if you didn’t brine it. Cut it into quarters; see Wikihow (1) for details in pictures.
  16. Arrange quarters, skin-side up, on rack of shallow roasting pan.
  17. Bake in preheated oven until tender, about 2¼ – 2½ hours total:
    • Turn quarters to skin-side down at end of 1 hour and bake for 30 minutes;
    • Turn skin-side up and continue baking for remaining time (¾ – 1 hour).
    • Remove from oven when done.
  18. Serve: Cut each half-breast into two, horizontally; separate wings and legs into pieces. Arrange as follows:
    1. Place portion of pilaf on each of 4 plates.
    2. Place a quarter-breast section and pieces of wings/legs on top of each pilaf portion.
    3. Spread cranberry-orange sauce over each  serving.
    4. Serve!


  1. How to Quarter a Duck:

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