Caneton Poêlés aux Navets (Casserole-Roasted Duck with Turnips)

Caneton Poêlés aux Navets (Casserole-Roasted Duck with Turnips)

This recipe has a very culinary long pedigree, stretching all the way back to the ancient Roman forebear of this dish, as recorded in Apicius, Book VI, Chapter II, 214, “Crane or Duck with Turnips”. The basic concept and some of the original method survived, but the seasonings changed quite a bit over the centuries. You can read the complete translated (and illustrated) Apicius here:

Personally, I prefer Julia Child’s take on this classic- in her own words:

“In casserole roasting, the duck is browned on all sides, then set to roast in a covered casserole. Cooked in its own steam, the duck’s flesh becomes wonderfully tender, and the layer of subcutaneous fat is even more effectively dissolved than by roasting. The turnips, which finish their cooking with the duck absorbing cooking juices, are particularly succulent. No other vegetable is necessary, but you could serve this with green peas or broccoli. a red Bordeaux, Beaujolais, or Côtes du Rhône would be the choice of wines.” (Excerpted 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 5 to 6 people.

  • One 5.5 lbs. duckling, ready to cook
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons rendered fresh pork fat or cooking oil

Special equipment: heavy oval casserole, just large enough to hold the duck

Preheat oven to 325 degrees . Season the inside of the duck with salt and pepper, truss it, and prick the skin around the thighs, back and lower part of the breast. Dry it thoroughly. Brown slowly on all sides in hot fat in the casserole.

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium herb bouquet – 4 springs parsley, 1/2 bay leaf, 1/4 tsp thyme tied in cheesecloth.

Pour out the browning fat. Salt the duck and place it breast side up in the casserole. Add the herb bouquet, cover the hot casserole and place it in the middle level of the preheated oven. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes, regulating heat so the duck is always baking quiet cooking noises. Basting is not necessary.

  • 2 lbs. turnips
  • water
  • salt

Special equipment: medium pot

While duck is cooking, prepare the turnips: Peel them and cut into large olive shapes about 1 3/4-inch long, or into 3/4-inch dice. Drop into boiling, salted water and boil slowly for 5 minutes. Drain.

Special equipment:a bulb baster

After duck has roasted for 50 to 60 minutes, or 30 to 40 minutes before the end of its estimated cooking time, degrease the casserole with bulb baster. Arrange the turnips around the duck, cover the casserole and return it to the oven. Baste turnips occasionally with juice in the casserole. The duck is done when its juices run a pale rose for medium rare, or a clear yellow for well done.

  • 2-3 tablespoons minced parsley

Drain the duck, discard trussing strings, and place it on a hot platter. Remove the turnips with a slotted spoon, arrange them around the duck, and decorate with parsley. Degrease the cooking juices, correct seasoning, pour into a warmed sauceboat and serve.

*Do Ahead: The duck, turnips, and degreased cooking juices can be returned to the hot casserole. Set the cover askew, and keep it warm for 30 minutes in the turned off hot oven, or over barely simmering water.