Caneton Braisé aux Marrons (Braised Duck with Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing)

Caneton Braisé aux Marrons (Braised Duck with Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing)

This is basically a scaled-down version of Oie Braisée aux Marrons (Braised Goose with Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing). While the original recipe is essentially a classic French farce (that is, a roast beast of some variety stuffed with even more meat), I opted for a slightly more American approach and prepared a Sausage, Chestnut and Fig Stuffing separately and stuffed the duck just before serving in order to prevent any potential food safety hazards (stuffing a raw bird before roasting or braising is a notorious salmonella risk due to insufficient internal temperature/uneven cooking issues). I mounded the extra cooked stuffing on a bed of kale greens, placed the finished duck on top of the stuffing, and garnished the bird with Marrons Braisés and Oignons Glacés à Brun, a drizzle of pan sauce, and a light sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.

Total cooking times for this recipe will vary depending on the size of the duck you use. I braised a 5 1/2-pound duck at 450 degrees for an hour and a half, and it came out perfectly. Check cook times and cooking temperatures, and when in doubt use a meat thermometer to check for proper doneness and to keep things safe. Remember, if you opt to stuff the duck with the chestnut, veal, and pork stuffing from the original recipe, add an extra half an hour to your cooking time for food safety (I would also recommend halving the stuffing recipe below, which is meant to stuff a 9-pound goose). If you would prefer a more typically American bread-based stuffing, prepare the stuffing of your choice and simply stuff the duck after your finished braising. If you wish, you can still add the chopped and sauteed duck liver to your own stuffing to use more of the bird and make your recipe more like the original.

Recipe adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck with permission from Alfred A. Knopf (all rights reserved).

For Sausage and Chestnut Stuffing:

Makes 8 cups.

  • 1 1/2 pounds of fresh chestnuts, or 4 cups of drained, canned, unsweetened chestnuts
  • 4 cups of the fresh ground Pork and Veal Stuffing
  • the duck liver, chopped and sautéed in butter

If using fresh chestnuts, peel them and simmer them in stock and seasonings as described in the Marrons Braisés recipe. Drain, and allow them to cool.

Prepare the stuffing and beat the sautéed liver into it. Sauté a spoonful and check seasoning, adjust seasoning as necessary.

For duck:

  • 5-6 pound duck
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced onions
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 4 tablespoons  rendered duck fat, fresh pork fat, or cooking oil
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups brown stock (beef stock or bouillon)
  • 3 cups dry white wine (or 2 cups dry white vermouth)
  • Duck bits (neck, wing tips, heart, and gizzard)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Season the cavity of the duck with salt. Starting with the meat stuffing, loosely pack alternate layers of stuffing and chestnuts into the duck, leaving a good inch of unfilled space at the vent. ,Sew or skewer the vent, truss the duck and prick its skin. Dry it thoroughly, and set it breast up in the roasting pan
  3. Brown the duck lightly in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes, turning it several times so it will color evenly.
  4. Salt the duck and place it breast up in the roaster. Turn oven down to 325 degrees.
  5. Brown the duck bits, onions, and carrots in hot fat in the skillet.
  6. Stir the flour in and brown slowly for several minutes.
  7. Off heat, blend in the boiling stock or bouillon and then the wine. Simmer for a moment. Then pour the contents into roaster around the duck. Add additional stock if necessary, so liquid reaches about 1/3 the way up the duck
  8. Bring to the simmer on top of the stove. Cover and set in the middle level of the preheated 325 degree oven
  9. Braise for about 2-hrs, regulating the oven heat so liquid simmers very quietly (basting is not necessary). Accumulated fat may be removed occasionally with bulb baster. The duck is done when its drumsticks move slightly in their sockets, and when their fleshiest part is pricked, the juices run pale yellow.
  10. Remove the duck to a serving platter and discard trussing strings.
  11. Skim the fat out of the roaster. Boil the cooking liquid down rapidly until it has thickened enough to coat a spoon lightly. Correct the seasoning to taste. Stir in the port and simmer a minute or two to evaporate its alcohol. Strain the sauce into a bowl or saucepan, pressing juice out of the ingredients.  You should have 5-6 cups of sauce. Pour a spoonful of sauce over the duck and serve.

*Ahead-of-time Note:

For a 30- to 40-minute wait, return the duck to the roaster, and set the cover askew. Place in the turned-off oven with its door ajar, or over barely simmering water.