Ballotine of Duckling is a British creation of outstanding complexity of flavors.  It is a difficult recipe to make, testing the skills of the best chefs, but the results are beyond delightful.  Perfect for entertaining.

Ballotines are stuffed game birds like duck, goose or pheasant, usually containing marinated meat of other birds and a forcemeat made with veal, poultry or pork and other ingredients. They are delicious when served either as appetizers or main courses for formal events. Turducken, the popular holiday roast, is in fact, a ballotine of turkey.

Ballotine of Duckling
The finished product, served with pureed carrot, parsnip and cauliflower.

Ballotine of DucklingThe duckling, spread with forcemeat, prior to the addition of solid meats and a second layer of forcemeat.

Ballotine of DucklingThe ballotine, trussed and ready for roasting.  The quintessential royalty of gastronomic skill and artistry.

Ballotine of Duckling
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
To serve the duck, start at the neck end, Cut off the wings neatly and cut across the body in thick confident and even slices.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: British
Serves: 6
  • 1 large duckling
  • 3 chicken supremes
  • 8 Tablespoons Port
  • 1 Seville orange, or lemon
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 shallots; finely chopped
  • 1 duck liver
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork, lean and fat
  • 4 ounces fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 6 Tablespoons parsley; finely chopped
  • 4 small sage leaves; finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
For the Gravy:
  • 5 fluid ounces good duck stock
  • port, or orange or lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  1. Wipe the duck, remove wingtips and next section of wing. Bone the duck, either through the neck end, or by slitting the skin along the backbone (in this case, the ballotine will have to be sewn together again, and unstrung after roasting). In either case, the duck drumsticks should be left in place and the thighs removed.
  2. Use the carcass and giblets to make a good duck stock. Set the boned duck aside while preparing the stuffing.
  3. Cut the skinless and boneless chicken breasts onto long strips about 1/2-inch wide. Put them in a dish with the port and juice of the orange or lemon (grate zest first, and put aside for later) to marinate.
  4. Melt half the butter in a small pan and add the chopped shallots. Cook them over medium heat until tender but not brown. Transfer them to a large bowl and add the remaining butter to the pan.
  5. When the pan is good and hot, add the duck liver and cook it lightly to stiffen it so that it may be chopped. Do so, and add it to the bowl.
  6. Chop half the pork very coarsely (1/2-inch cubes are a good target) and mince the remainder (once) not too finely. If using a food processor, beware not to convert to a lump.
  7. Put both lots of pork into the bowl, together with the breadcrumbs, grated citrus zest, herbs, egg and a good dollop of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and fry a dollop to check seasoning. Correct seasonings if need be.
  8. Lay the duck, breast down, on a board and spoon half the forcemeat into/onto it. Form into a thick duck shaped layer on the bird. Drain the slivers of chicken and press them lengthwise into the first layer of stuffing.
  9. Spread the remaining stuffing over and sew up either along the whole of the back, or just neck and tail vents.
  10. Use a trussing needle and thread or fine string. Pin the wings and legs in position close to the body with skewers or trussing. Pat the bird back into shape.
  11. Do not prick the bird, but roast it in a preheated (180 degrees C, 350 degrees F, Mark 4) oven for about 2 hours, basting once or twice with the port and juice marinade.
  12. Rest the duck 10 minutes before carving.
  13. Make a thin gravy from the skimmed pan juices, if they are not too darkly caramelized, try adding the stock, port, juice and seasonings to taste.
When the average person thinks about Pates and Terrines, they generally think about French cookery, but the British far outpaced the French in creating unique dishes in this category. Ballotines, or stuffed birds, are clearly British in creation and blend many flavors for a complex, unique dish.

If you have a good local butcher, ask them to bone the duck for a ballotine.


Share →
Cost Considerate

Cost Considerate

Most of our recipes are focused on cost-efficient, economical cooking that pleases palates but doesn't upset your wallet.
New Recipes Section

New Recipes Section

We are updating to include new recipes, and a whole new format for them. We hope you enjoy.
Real chefs!

Real chefs!

We love cooking, and our publisher is a master chef, so you can rely upon our great recipes for good, wholesome cooking.
Please use the search box above to find content within this section.

Thanks for dropping by! Feel free to stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed.