Christmas Duck Stew

Christmas Duck Stew

This Christmas Duck Stew is a festive main dish packed with textures and flavours. And it can also be made one or two days ahead.

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Christmas Duck Stew

Hello everyone. I hope you are doing well. And I certainly hope the dish I am sharing today will make your super hungry (Even if you’ve just had your meal.) I know, I am cruel.

Christmas Main Course Ideas

I never really shared main course Christmas recipes until last year when I posted this Roasted Cranberry Rosemary Chicken. And these Cranberry Barbecue Meatballs. And also this Beef Mushroom Chestnut Stew. Why didn’t this happen before? Perhaps because I used to think it’s challenging, almost impossible, to style main course the way it look festive and elegant. Certainly, it’s so much easier to photograph something utterly photogenic and inviting like cookies or chocolates.

On the other hand, with my skills getting better and better, real Christmas food is also becoming more appealing to me. While there’s some certain limitations in terms of using props, shooting main dishes feels indeed great. And it tastes delicious, too :) (Not saying that cookies and desserts I’ve been sharing are NOT delicious, though.)

I even managed to photograph “Christmas soup” (That of course you can be enjoyed any time of the year). Like this Pumpkin Cranberry Soup. Or this Porcini Mushroom Chestnut Soup.

Anyway, one day I found a package of duck breasts in our basement freezer. I am not sure when we even bought this. (No worries though, the expiration date was okay). Where did we buy it? When? Why? Did we actually buy it? Maybe that was Daisy who hunted some duck and then individually packed the breasts in three packages… So many questions, and no answers whatsoever.

Christmas Duck Stew

So I decided to make something delicious ASAP (Before an actual owner would show up and claim the mystery duck LOL). I had never worked with duck, but I followed the instructions for pan-searing on the package. As far as I understand, you should either quickly pan-sear or sauté the duck for a long time. I opted for a quick option, although the second one would have probably resulted in softer duck meat. let me know what’s the best way to cook a duck, besides roasting it.

This Christmas Duck Stew turned out wonderful. Yes, the duck breast pieces were slightly chewy, but I believe that’s normal for duck breasts. Other flavours include chestnuts, prosciutto, cranberries, vegetables (Such as onions, carrots, and parsnips), rosemary, and a touch of nutmeg. Perfect holiday flavours! I also used both dried and fresh cranberries for the added sweetness and tartness.

If you don’t have or don’t want to use duck, chicken would work beautifully, too.

Oh. this stew is so hearty and homey – you will love it!

I hope you like this recipe for Christmas Duck Stew, and you will it a try this holiday season. If you make it, let me know in this post or send me an Instagram message or share you photos adding the hashtag #havocinthekitchen.


Christmas Duck Stew
Christmas Duck Stew

Christmas Duck Stew

Recipe by Ben | HavocinthekitchenCourse: Main, Christmas


Prep time


Cooking time (duck)


Cooking time (stew)



This Christmas Duck Stew is a festive main dish packed with textures and flavours. And it can also be made one or two days ahead.


  • Pan-Seared Duck:
  • 2 large duck breasts skin on, about 1 and 1/2 lb. (600 gr.) total

  • salt and black pepper

  • Christmas Duck Stew:
  • 1 large onion (about 1 and 1/2 cup sliced)

  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 tbsp. rendered duck fat (or olive oil if prefer)

  • 1 large carrot (about 1 and 1/2 cup sliced)

  • 2 medium parsnips (about 1 and 1/2 cup sliced)

  • 200-250 gr. cooked shelled chestnuts (I used vacuum-packed)

  • 3-4 prosciutto slices, about 50-60 gr., cut into small pieces

  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh cranberries

  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary

  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme

  • 1/2 tbsp. dried Italian seasonings

  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika

  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle powder

  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, freshly grated

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 3 to 4 cups of broth (Chicken or vegetable), water or the combination of broth and water


  • Pan-Seared Duck:
  • Pat dry the duck breasts with a paper towel.
  • Score the duck skin with sharp knife, making sure to not cut into the flesh. Season the duck breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Place the breasts skin side down onto a large, cold skillet or pan. Place the skillet over medium heat and do not move the duck breasts until for the first 4-5 minutes. When the breasts start to sizzle, continue cooking until the skin is browned, crisp, and has rendered most of its fat, for another 6 to 8 minutes. Avoid moving the breasts too often.
  • Turn the breasts and cook until for another 2 minutes or so. It’s not a problem if the breasts remain a bit undercooked as they will be cooked in the stew for a little time too. Set aside and let it rest while you make the stew. Do not forget to reserve the rendered fat, For this recipe you will need just a lit bit, but you can use it for other dishes. Once the duck is rested and slightly cooled, slice it.
  • Christmas Duck Stew:
  • In a large pot (or preferably Dutch oven) add 2 tbsp. of duck fat and cook the onions with garlic over low-medium heat, until aromatic, for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and parsnips and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the chestnuts, prosciutto, and cranberries. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Season with herbs and seasonings. Be careful with salt as prosciutto is salty; it’s better to adjust salt once the stew is ready. Ideally, you should season with a little of salt each ingredients / step when cooking. Aim 1/2 teaspoon total and add more if necessary. Cook the seasoned vegetables for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the broth or water (or both), between 3 and 4 cups, just to barely cover the ingredients. You can add more later, if needed. Add the sliced duck breasts. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 10 to 12 minutes or until the vegetables are almost soft. Check and adjust the seasonings.
  • When the vegetables are almost ready, fold in the fresh cranberries and cook for 3-5 minutes, just until the berries start bursting. Off heat. Let the stew rest, covered, for about 30 minutes before serving. You can make the stew 1-2 days ahead of serving, and it will be only better the next day! Enjoy!

27 thoughts on “Christmas Duck Stew

  1. Laura says:

    What an inviting stew, Ben! I love all the ingredients in your stew – chestnuts, cranberries and that awesome spice profile! So glad Daisy could package these up for you and keep them hidden until the perfect time! Clever cat she is!

  2. Marissa says:

    We love duck and I so rarely see recipes for it. This duck stew really does look special occasion worthy, Ben! Can’t wait to try it!

  3. Frank says:

    I love duck and the various flavors going into this dish sound really nice. Especially like the cranberries—they’re an underused ingredient not counting the ubiquitous sauce (which I love).

  4. David @ Spiced says:

    Haha – I had to laugh at your comment about the mystery duck in the freezer! That has totally happened to us before, too – although not with duck. Come to think of it, I’ve never really cooked with duck, either. However, it’s getting cold outside, and the thought of a nice hot stew sounds pretty fantastic right now. I bet Daisy is mad at you for eating all of her duck, though…
    David @ Spiced recently posted…Cajun Cornbread Biscuit DressingMy Profile

  5. Eva Taylor says:

    These types of stews are definitely what we are craving as the temperatures are plummeting in Toronto. The colours are rich and scrumptious. I recently cooked a duck breast and it was a little chewy too, I’m thinking it shouldn’t have been but I’ve not had one in a restaurant so I can’t be sure.

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