I want to make Cantonese-style roasted duck but a whole-duck is too much for me and I have only a small oven so I want to try using the thigh or breast only.

My problem is I can't make the layer of fat underneath the skin melt down. With a whole-duck recipe you roast the duck at medium-high temp for 2-4 hours, but because I use only part of the duck, if I do that the meat-side will dry out.

Here is what I tried:

  1. Using fingers, separate skin and meat (still intact end-part), stripes diamond pattern

  2. Brine duck part for 1-2 hour (with salt, sugar, water, soy sauce, ginger, garlic)

  3. Boil water with distilled vinegar, honey, red coloring then pour over skin-side, skin tighten up

  4. Rub with baking powder, uncover in fridge to dry the skin

  5. I tried this step two ways:

    • first time I roasted with convection oven 140 c, still fatty skin

    • second,used aluminum foil wrapped all over meat-part, uncover the skin-part in fridge 48 hours, roasted, not better than first one, skin still thick but cracking (skin too dry?)

How can I get the skin to be thin and the fat to melt?

  • Does your oven have a setting for top heat only? It may be called 'broil' or 'grill'. You typically use them at high heat, but you can often set a lower temperature as well. My only other thought is to put something in with it to help insulate the bottom or otherwise regulate the temperature (eg, setting it in a pan with a bit of liquid in it ... but you'll want to put in something so it's not actually sitting against the bottom of the pan ... a few carrots generally works).
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:00
  • If you can get the fat to melt the meat shouldn't dry out. I used to cook duck under the grill on the grid of a grill pan with new potatoes underneath, which then roast in the duck fat. This didn't take all that long. You might need to slow it down a little from what I did.
    – Chris H
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:06
  • i have 2 ovens convection one only top heat and another can do top only and top-bottom heat So from suggestion above i should place carrot or potato in the small tray or rack?(which one?? so fat can drip out?) and place brined duck breast on carrot/potato directly?
    – Miii
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


The secret is in varying the temperature. Toss the pieces in baking powder or corn starch and fine salt, with or without other dry seasonings. In a non-convection oven, bake first at 120°C/250°F for 30 minutes to melt the fat and thin the skin layer, then at 220°C/425°F for 40 to 45 minutes to "crispy it up."

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