The Difference Between Roasting Whole Duck Vs. Crowns

Not to be confused with the other types of crown roasts – typically pork or beef rib roasts where the bones are exposed and arranged to look like a crown – a duck crown is a bone-in duck that has had its legs removed. While you might not think that removing the legs would change the nature of the roast, it most certainly does. There is a big difference between how you go about roasting a whole duck versus a crown.

The legs are an important factor to consider when roasting a whole duck. While the breast meat of a duck is exceedingly rich, the leg meat is decidedly darker, tougher, and will take much longer to cook. The difference in roasting a whole bird or a crown lies in the approach one takes to the bird. Since the crown is devoid of legs, there's no concern of the breast meat going dry while the legs finish cooking. The breast can, therefore, be cooked to perfection and it doesn't take nearly as long. 

Roasting a duck crown is a simple affair. There' no need to flip the duck or dismember it halfway through cooking the way people sometimes do with a whole duck. In actuality, roasting a crown is a simple matter of high temperatures and fast roasting. 

Selecting and roasting a duck crown

There are two ways to go about selecting a duck crown. If you have access to a local butcher, you can request that they remove the legs. However, if you don't have access to a butcher and can only buy the bird whole, you can very easily remove the legs yourself. 

High heat is your friend when cooking a duck crown. Unlike the legs, which prefer longer and slower cooking methods, the breast meat of the crown benefits from high heat. It makes the skin beautifully browned and crispy, and the breast meat will continue to cook even after it has been taken out of the oven. This is known as holdover cooking.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry the crown and season it however you'd like. You can lightly score the skin at this stage, but it is not required as most of the fat comes from the thighs, which have been removed. Roast the crown in the oven for 16 minutes. That may seem short, but the high heat in the oven will get the duck to an internal temperature 125 degrees, making the skin brown and crispy. Remove the duck from the oven and let rest for 15 more minutes. The internal temp will rise 130 and 140 degrees, perfect medium rare or medium. The resting also allows the juices to redistribute, providing you with meat that is moist and tender.