Thai-Style Braised Duck with Green Beans

If you are a duck fan, then you must put this fabulous recipe on your shortlist. Never tried duck? Then this recipe is a great jumping off point. Keep in mind, the duck anatomy has quite a different bone structure than that of chicken or turkey. If you are unsure how to break one down, watch on a video, ask the butcher, or simply buy 4 duck legs.

On another note, all of the meat on a duck is dark meat, even the breast. But with this method all of the meat comes out juicy and tender—not greasy at all! Duck and goose are poultry and considered “white” meat. Because they are birds of flight, however, the breast meat is darker than chicken and turkey breast.

On the plus side, duck meat’s rich flavor and color provides a red meat eating experience with the health benefits of poultry. Duck meat is rich in iron and protein like beef but is leaner and has fewer calories like its poultry counterparts. Plus, duck fat is healthier with less saturated fat and more omega-3 fat than beef.

Speaking of the fat on a duck, you want to make sure it gets rendered down. The Hubs decided to render the extra pieces of fat and skin in another skillet, and when crisp he removed them from the hot oil on a paper towel-lined plate, sprinkled with salt and ate as a snack once cooled. With the remaining leftover oil (we had 3 cups!), he will freeze the fat and save it to make duck confit sometime in the future.

Once bottom browns, turn the pieces. Eventually liquid will evaporate and duck will cook in its fat only. At this point lower heat and continue to cook duck, turning occasionally, until it becomes tender, about 1 hour. While the skin does look nice and brown, it will not be crispy once it steams with the beans in a covered dish.

Rice would make a fine accompaniment, but we paired ours this time with Roasted Parmesan Potatoes, which were wonderfully crispy on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside. Stock will be made from the unused pieces of the duck, such as the back and wings.

Thai-Style Braised Duck with Green Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


  • 1 duck, quartered, or 4 legs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 2 small chiles, seeded and minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. nam pla (fish sauce) or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • Cilantro for garnish, coarsely chopped


  1. Remove excess fat from duck. Season with salt and pepper and put in a skillet or saute pan that will fit it comfortably. Turn heat to medium and cover. Check once you hear sizzling; duck should be simmering in its own fat and exuding liquid. Adjust heat to create a steady simmer.
  2. Once bottom browns, turn. Eventually liquid will evaporate and duck will cook in its fat only. At this point lower heat and continue to cook duck, turning occasionally, until it becomes tender, about 1 hour.
  3. Transfer duck when tender to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Turn heat to medium and add onion; cook until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and chilies and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add beans and sugar and turn heat to high; cook, stirring occasionally, until beans begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons water and nam pla (fish sauce) or soy sauce. Put duck on top of bean mixture and bring to a simmer, Cover and cook until both beans and duck are very tender, 15 to 30 more minutes, adding a little more water if necessary to keep mixture moist. Uncover and stir in lime juice; taste and adjust seasoning, then sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Recipe by Mark Bittman for NYTimes Cooking


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