Duck is not like other types of poultry. In fact, it is actually considered a waterfowl or game bird. Although it may have some of the same similarities as chicken or turkey such as the different cuts or sections, the way it is prepared is vastly different.
There are several ways to prepare duck depending on the cut you decide to use.
Duck is a pretty versatile cut of meat that will go well with many different types of sides. However, there are a select few sides that will really elevate the dish as a nicely composed dish. Duck meat tends to be fattier and rich which pairs nicely with similar flavors.
It will also benefit from dark fruits like cherries and plums that can either be turned into a sauce or in the form of a traditional side to accompany the entrée.
You can also try to go with a side that won’t make the dish overly heavy and rich but rather create a nice healthy and light entrée anyone could enjoy. There are several types of vegetables that pair nicely such as roasted beets or potatoes.
These vegetables are also versatile enough to create a multitude of side dishes to go with the duck. With so many different options to choose from, I decided to handpick a few of my favorite side dishes to pair with duck.
I have used these side dishes in a fine dining restaurant setting as well as while serving my family at home. I’m sure you will love any of these choices I have prepared for you.
- How To Cook The Duck
- 8 Best Side Dishes To Serve with Duck
- 1.Haricot Vert And Bacon Lardon Sauté
- 2.Roasted Beet Carpaccio With Raspberry Vinaigrette
- 3.Roasted Brussel Sprouts And Cauliflower Puree
- 4.Pommes De Terre Sarladaises
- 5.Braised Red Cabbage With Raspberries
- 6.Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes And Sizzled Spinach
- 7.Braised Baby Bok Choy With Orange Glaze
- 8.Roasted Beet Risotto With Crispy Chantarelles
- What To Serve With Duck Confit
- What To Serve With Duck Sausage
- What To Serve With Duck Tacos
- What Kind Of Sauce To Serve With Duck
- Final Words
How To Cook The Duck
Each cut of the duck is going to be very different in terms of the temperature it needs to be cooked to when finished or the method used to prepare the meat. If you were going to cook a duck breast, the most common way to go with is going to be a pan sear or roasting. In order to do this, you need to score the fat side of the duck and then season heavily.
Use an extremely hot pan with some oil and place the duck in the pan fat side down. You will need to cook the duck on this side for quite some time to not only create a nice sear on the skin but also to help render the fat off the duck breast.
If you don’t the skin will be chewy and tough making it harder to consume.
Once the sear has been created, you will need to roast the duck breast until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees which is a perfect medium-rare. Duck breast is best when it is cooked to this temperature.
If you cook it more than that, the meat will become tough and chewy. This is just one of the many ways to prepare duck breast. There are plenty of other methods and recipes out there, but will not always be the same preparation.
8 Best Side Dishes To Serve with Duck
1.Haricot Vert And Bacon Lardon Sauté
This is probably one of the most iconic sides to serve with duck. Whether you are cooking the breast or the leg, this side is sure to add some flare to the entrée.
Essentially, haricot vert is a fancy name or the French term relating to green beans. But these are not just any type of green beans and they are really not the ones that come in the can.
They are more commonly referred to as “French beans”. You can buy them at any local supermarket in the produce aisle. They need to be cleaned before you use them.
You will need to remove the ends and tops of the beans and then blanch them or parboil them for about 5 minutes before you cook them in any other way. This side dish calls for them to be sauteed with some butter, shallot, garlic, and bacon.
You can add a little chicken stock and salt and pepper to the sauté pan while you cook them but it really is not all that necessary.
2.Roasted Beet Carpaccio With Raspberry Vinaigrette
As I mentioned before, ducks will benefit from bright and vibrant yet sweet vegetables. Roasted beets are one of the best options to roll within this case but they will need a lot of time to cook since they are so dense. Don’t worry though, they are very easy to cook and prepare for any side dish.
For this dish, coat the beets in vegetable oil and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. Bake them in the oven for at least 1 hour at 400 degrees or until they are soft and tender. Allow them to cool down completely before handling them.
Then peel the skin off the beets with a paper towel and slice them thinly. Arrange the beet slices on a plate in a circle to display them.
Dress a salad of any variety of vegetables with a raspberry vinaigrette and place the salad on top of the beets. This salad will accent the natural flavors of the duck and bring a nice acidity to the dish.
3.Roasted Brussel Sprouts And Cauliflower Puree
If you are a fan of Brussel sprouts then you should have no problems with this side dish. Brussel sprouts pair nicely with the earthy flavors of the duck and really elevate the dish as a whole to round it out. In addition to the roasted Brussel sprouts, a nice cauliflower puree will add another texture to the dish and make it complete.
Just prepare the cauliflower in the same way you would if you were making mashed potatoes. Try not to add too much liquid to the cauliflower as it may make the puree a little watery and loose.
4.Pommes De Terre Sarladaises
This dish is a French and sometimes Italian side dish that uses duck fat to cook the potatoes. The title Pommes de Terre means “apple of the earth” which is loosely translated as potatoes.
Since potatoes pair nicely with duck already, cooking them in duck fat will naturally work even better with duck meat. The potatoes are sliced thin and are cooked in garlic, parsley, and duck fat.
You will also need to season the potatoes with salt and pepper as well. Sometimes, people like to add chopped anchovies to the potatoes or some nice parmesan while omitting the salt.
These ingredients will bring enough saltiness to the dish that salt will not be needed. Plus, they also bring some other flavors to the side dish as well.
5.Braised Red Cabbage With Raspberries
Red cabbage can be pretty plain on its own but when it is cooked down with other ingredients, the natural flavors release and are almost sweet and slightly tangy. The addition of red raspberries also works nicely with duck bringing that rich dark fruit that duck usually cries out for on a plate.
When braising the red cabbage in vegetable stock, make sure to add the red raspberries at the same time. This will ensure they break down completely with the cabbage and create a nice tangy element. You can also add some red wine vinegar and a touch of table sugar to the mix just to kick it up a notch as well.
6.Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes And Sizzled Spinach
Mashed potatoes are naturally going to go well with anything on a plate including a duck in any way it is prepared. More specifically, Yukon Gold potatoes will work the best as a mashed potato side to accompany the duck.
Yukon gold potatoes are richer and slightly buttery which complement the duck nicely.
The addition of a sauteed or sizzled spinach also works well with duck as well as mashed potatoes of any kind. If you are not the kind of person that goes for sauteed spinach and want a healthier route, try using steamed spinach instead.
7.Braised Baby Bok Choy With Orange Glaze
If you are planning to cook your duck with some Asian flare, then you may want to consider this wonderful side dish. In many Asian cultures, baby Bok choy is used more often than not.
It also pairs nicely with duck and there are many ways to cook it. Think of Bok choy like leafy greens such as kale or greens and it needs to be prepared the same way as well.
Baby Bok choy is great to pair with your duck in many ways but the most common side dish will have a glaze of some sort on the baby Bok choy. Orange glaze is the most common type to bring some acidity to the dish.
8.Roasted Beet Risotto With Crispy Chantarelles
Another great dish to try out is some sort of rice dishes like pilaf or fried rice. One of the more common types used is risotto in this case but that point could be argued by many chefs out there.
Risotto is supposed to be the star of the dish which is why you need to dumb it down a bit as to not overshadow the duck on the plate. Most risotto is usually flavored with a vegetable or fruit and in this case, roasted beets will work nicely.
It will also turn the risotto a beautiful bright red or pink color that really pops on the plate. The addition of some crispy chantarelle mushrooms or any mushroom for that matter will bring out the natural earthy flavors of the duck as well.
What To Serve With Duck Confit
Duck confit is a dish that is widely used in many restaurants where the duck leg has been braised slowly for hours in its own duck fat. It can tend to be a heavier dish when compared to other types of duck entrees so the side dish needs to fit well.
There are two ways to go with duck confit side dishes. You can either go with a side dish that will complement the duck confit or a dish that will have contrasting flavors.
Some great sides to complement the dish will be heavier sides like rice pilaf, risotto, or warm lentil salads. While good contrasting dishes with bright and vibrant flavors will be salads with a tangy vinaigrette, rich and bright fruits, or a red wine poached pear.
What To Serve With Duck Sausage
When serving duck sausage, you want to treat it just like you would with any other type of sausage. There will not be a huge difference in the sides you would choose if it were an andouille sausage or a kielbasa sausage.
There are a couple of sides to try out that may work better than others though. Cassoulet is a French side dish that consists of white beans, shallots, bacon, and butter.
The beans are slowly cooked down in all the ingredients and served in a large pot directly on the table. The sausage can accompany it or be sliced up and placed in the cassoulet.
If you want to add your duck sausage to an already existing entrée that uses sausage, try going with a classic gumbo or etouffee. These Cajun and creole dishes are really not that hard to make. In addition, it usually call for several different types of meat including sausage.
What To Serve With Duck Tacos
If you are serving duck tacos, you probably are not too worried about the side dish to serve with the tacos but what to put in the taco with the duck. You really don’t want to top a duck taco in the plain jane way with lettuce cheese and sauce.
It really will not work well and pretty much ruin the dish. Instead, try to go with vibrant toppings with the addition of crunchy greens or bright fruits.
One great topping to try out will be a type of salsa or Pico de Gallo in the sense of how it is cut into larger chunks. Don’t just go with a regular Pico de Gallo. Try using fruits like mangoes, pineapples, and red onions as the salsa topping.
If you want to have some healthy vegetables in the taco, go for a crunchy and tangy slaw. Make a fresh slaw out of red cabbage, green onions, napa cabbage, and some apple cider vinegar to contrast with the rich flavors of the duck as well as bring a crunchy textural element to the dish.
What Kind Of Sauce To Serve With Duck
With regards to the sauce to pair with your duck, you will mainly want to think of a heavier or richer sauce that will complement the duck. You can still have a rich sauce that has bright flavors with the addition of bold fruits like cherries or plums.
Some great sauces to try with brighter flavors will be a plum sauce or cherry fruit gastrique. These sauces will bring fruity flavors to accent the duck as well as add some acidity to the dish.
If you want to steer clear of fresh fruits, try going with rich dark sauces like a demi-glace or a dark port wine reduction to elevate the duck and round out the dish.
Whether you are making duck tacos, pan-seared duck breast, or roasting a whole duck you just want to make sure you are either complementing or contrasting the natural flavors of the duck.
You can never go wrong with dark red and vibrant fruits and vegetables like cherries, raspberries, or roasted beets. If you are complementing, try and go for rich and heavy sides with a hearty and homey feel to the side dish.
No matter the direction you take, I’m sure you and your family will love it!
Kevin has spent 20 years as an Executive Chef, focused heavily on recipe construction and menu development. Today his focus is on writing, consulting to restaurants, and teaching culinary arts. In his spare time, Kevin loves to cook with his lovely wife and kids.