Duck with red cabbage & madeira gravy

Duck with red cabbage & madeira gravy

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(4 ratings)

Prep: 3 hrs, 15 mins - 3 hrs, 30 mins Plus overnight salting

More effort

Serves 2

A decadent duck dish slow-cooked French-style in goose fat to make it mouth-wateringly tender

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal890
  • fat64g
  • saturates18g
  • carbs27g
  • sugars3g
  • fibre6g
  • protein48g
  • salt2.17g


    For the duck

    • 25g sea salt flakes
    • 2 tsp crushed black peppercorns
    • 4 fresh bay leaves
    • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves plus 2-4 sprigs


      This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

    • 2 large or 4 small ducks legs (550g/1lb 4oz total weight)



      Rich and full of flavour, duck meat is extremely nutritious, with high levels of protein, B…

    • 340g can goose fat
    • 300ml/½pint groundnut oil

    For the madeira

    • generous knob of butter



      Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

    • 2 shallots, finely chopped



      Related to the onion (as opposed to being a younger version of it), shallots grow in clusters at…

    • 1 tsp plain flour
    • 300g tub fresh chicken stock
    • 2 tbsp madeira

    For the cabbage

    • 4 shallots, peeled and halved



      Related to the onion (as opposed to being a younger version of it), shallots grow in clusters at…

    • 5 juniper berries, finely chopped
    • 400g red cabbage, finely shredded
      Red cabbage on a plate

      Red cabbage

      red cab-idge

      A favourite winter vegetable served hot with roasted game birds but equally good as a colourful…

    • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • juice of 1 small orange



      One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

    • 25g large raisins
    • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly


    1. At least 24 hours before serving, mix the salt, pepper and herbs, except the thyme sprigs, in a large bowl. Add the duck legs and rub in the herby salt until well coated. Cover and leave overnight or up to 24 hours in the fridge.

    2. Next day, wipe the salty mixture from the duck legs and place them in a single, tight-fitting layer in the base of a pan. Add the bay leaves from the bowl and pour over the goose fat. If it doesn’t cover the duck, top up with the groundnut oil. Cook over the lowest possible heat for 2½ hours, so the fat barely bubbles. The duck skin should be creamy rather than golden once cooked. Transfer the legs to a bowl and strain in the fat, pushing the duck under until fully submerged. (The duck can now be chilled and refrigerated for up to 1 month.)

    3. While the duck is cooking (or up to 2 days ahead of the meal), make the madeira gravy and cabbage. For the gravy, melt the butter in a small pan, add the shallots and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring until golden. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring all the time, until the flour browns – take care not to let it burn. Whisk in the stock and continue whisking over the heat until slightly thickened. Add the madeira and cook for 2 minutes more. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. (The gravy can now be cooled and chilled for up to 2 days.)

    4. For the cabbage, scoop 2 tbsp of the goose fat from the duck as it cooks (if making at another time use olive oil) and put into a medium pan. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened. Tip in the juniper berries and cabbage and cook over a fairly high heat until the cabbage starts to soften. Stir in the vinegar, orange juice, raisins and redcurrant jelly. Cover and leave to cook for 15 minutes, stirring now and then until tender. (Cool and chill for up to 2 days if making ahead.)

    5. On the day, preheat the oven to fan 180C/ conventional 200C/gas 6. Remove the duck legs from the fat and wipe away any excess with kitchen paper. Put the duck on a wire rack in a roasting tin and top each leg with a sprig of thyme. Roast for 10 minutes, then add the creamy wild mushroom potatoes to the oven (see recipe, below) and cook with the duck for 30 minutes, or until the duck skin is golden. Meanwhile, reheat the cabbage and gravy in separate pans until piping hot.

    6. To serve, put a generous spoonful of cabbage on serving plates and sit the duck legs on top. Spoon round the gravy and serve with the potatoes. For a green vegetable, quickly stir fry some sugar snaps.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    26th Jul, 2020
    Everything is good in this recipe apart from the madeira gravy: it’s a good madeira sauce but it’s shocking how it doesn’t go well with the duck! Confit duck does NOT need a sauce, especially not a madeira gravy.
    8th Dec, 2012
    Used the slow cooker on low for10 hrs as suggested. Meat fell off one of duck legs making next step difficult. Will try again using shorter slow cooker time.
    30th Dec, 2010
    I served this dish for Christmas Lunch and it was a great success. I choose to use lovely baked sweet potatoes as an accompaniment. The duck was delicious and not greasy at all despite all that goose fat. Be careful with the salt flakes.....ensure you wipe them off really well as the dish could be over seasoned. But don't wash the salt off! I added at least double the quantity of Madeira wine as I thought the sauce needed it. Well worth the effort I will use this recipe again, very satisfied.
    14th Dec, 2010
    Excellent dinner party dish. Prepare a couple of days in advance and no stress on the night, so easy. It was loved by all and I would highly recommend
    3rd Nov, 2007
    Love this meal. Duck can sometimes be a bit rich but the red cabbage is the perfect partner for it. Hubby loved it!
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