French-style duck pie
- February 2024
- Serves 6
- Hands-on time 30 min, oven time 2 hours 30 min, simmering time 30 min
Food writer Sam Ellis-Cosgrove shares the duck pie recipe that played a special role in her leap into the food world – and holds treasured midwinter memories. Inspired by French croustade de canard, it’s flavoured with thyme, garlic and pancetta.
“It was on my honeymoon in Paris that I discovered croustade de canard (that’s duck pie to you and me). After a long day of sightseeing, my husband and I stopped for supper at a cosy-looking bistro just along from our hotel on the Rue Saint-Ferdinand. Looking for something warm and comforting and intrigued by a dish we had never tried before, we opted for the pie.
The pastry was crisp, buttery and flaky, and the thyme-infused filling with its soft confit duck and salty ham was so delicious, eaten with a carafe of house red. I didn’t know at the time just how important that rich little pie would be, but afterwards it sat centre stage at my first ever supper club and has stayed with me ever since.”
- 61.5g (32.3g saturated)
- 49g (3.6g sugars)
- 2 duck legs
- 2 duck breasts
- Small bunch fresh thyme
- 1 garlic bulb, sliced in half horizontally
- 3 bay leaves
- 35g unsalted butter
- 100g cubed pancetta
- 2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
- 1 medium carrot, halved lengthways and finely sliced
- 80g plain flour
- 125ml dry white wine
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 2 tbsp single cream
- 1 large free-range egg yolk
For the pastry
- 350g plain flour, plus extra to dust
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 250g unsalted butter, frozen for 1 hour, plus extra to grease
- 8-10 tbsp ice-cold water
- 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin
- Heat the oven to 160°C fan/gas 6. Lay the duck pieces in a roasting tray with the thyme, garlic and bay leaves and cover with foil. Roast for 1 hour 20 minutes, then set aside. Once cool enough to handle, shred the duck meat, pop the garlic cloves from their skins and leave in a bowl for later (discard skins). This can be done the day before.
- For the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, remove the butter from the freezer and coarsely grate it into the flour. Work it in with your fingers, adding the water to make a soft, pliable dough, then wrap and chill until needed. Again, this can be done the day before.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter, add the pancetta and cook over a medium heat until golden. Add the leeks and soften for 2 minutes before adding the carrots. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes before whisking in the wine. Gradually whisk in the stock and cook over a low-medium heat for 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and season to taste. Set aside to cool.
- Cut off two thirds of the pastry and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a disc about 30cm in diameter. Butter the cake tin and use the pastry to line it, leaving a 1cm overhang. Combine the sauce with the duck and garlic and use it to fill the pastry case to the top.
- Roll out the rest of the pastry into a smaller disc measuring about 24cm, lay it over the top of the pie and press the edges together to seal. Trim off any extra and keep for decorating. Beat the egg yolk with 1 tsp hot water and brush onto the lid. Decorate how you like. I cut out the silhouette of a duck, but you could use a leaf cutter or indeed if you’re feeling romantic some hearts. Brush with the egg again and keep refrigerated until you’re ready to cook.
- Heat the oven to 170°C fan/gas 5 with a baking tray on the middle shelf to heat up. Put the pie on the try and bake for 60-70 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Carefully remove from the tin and serve cut into wedges. I usually serve it with roasted garlic mash and green beans.
Roast the duck/garlic and make the pastry the day before. Once prepared, the pie can be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Once cooked, it will last up to 3 days in the fridge.
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