Duckkeepers’ Pie

This is a very useful store cupboard recipe, or if you are travelling, or visiting a friend and want to relieve them of at least one meal. You can take the whole caboodle with you – the only fresh item (if you use a tin of evaporated milk, instead of fresh milk) will be the accompanying stir-fried cabbage which will keep well – take it in a plastic bag with the dressing packed separately.

Basically, you make the duckkeepers’ pie in three layers – the duck meat layer, then on top a tomato sauce layer, and on top of that the mashed potato.  Because the mashed potato is made from instant potato powder there is no messing with peeling potatoes etc…the garlic and massive amount of butter make it excellent, and the instantness of it all saves you from messing up yours, or someone else’s kitchen.

This pie can be made ahead and assembled at the last minute. It keeps quite well for a couple of days in the fridge and heats up well. It goes particularly well with stir-fried cabbage with raisins and pinenuts – if it’s Christmas you can substitute the raisins for dried cranberries.

Or try stir frying (with sesame oil) shredded Savoy cabbage with fennel and onion, seasoned with salt, pepper, and toasted caraway seeds, and a dash of cider vinegar.

Another alternative would be a red endive, avocado, celery (for a bit of crunch) and pine nut salad.

Or you could serve it with a rather special coleslaw.

To find out how to confit duck yourself follow this link.


Recipe for Duckkeepers’ Pie

Serves 8


  • 1 x tin confit of duck with 4/5 legs (order from Confit de Carnard UK for best value in the UK, otherwise Waitrose stocks this, or, next time you are in France stock up at a french supermarket where it is much cheaper). Or, it is relatively easy to make.
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp brown sugar, or maple syrup
  • 2 x 400g tin of whole tomatoes
  • fresh or dried thyme – couple of tsps
  • 300g/10 oz chicken livers
  • 1 tbsp Belazu balsamic vinegar
  • 80 ml/⅓ cup red vermouth, or, at Christmas I use mulled wine…more if the mixture looks a little stiff
  • generous smoked salt and Indonesian long pepper
  • knob of butter and a sprinkling of paprika

Ingredients for the mashed potatoes:

  • 240g/2 cup smash instant potato
  • 480ml/2 cups just boiled water – but boil more, you will probably need it
  • 2 x chicken stock cubes dissolved in it
  • 720ml/3 cups full (do not even think of messing around with skimmed) milk (or you can use 2 x 170g tins evaporated milk plus an extra tablespoon of water)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • just under half a brick of butter (100g/4 oz)
  • 6 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
  • grated nutmeg
  • optionally you can sprinkle over a little grated Comté cheese


  1. Heat the tomatoes with the thyme, the red vermouth, the balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper (and a tsp of brown sugar or maple syrup) and break them up – this is the very simple tomato sauce which will go on top of the duck meat layer. You want to reduce it down so that it is thick, but will still trickle down through the duck.
  2. Heat the oven to 210°C.
  3. Make the mashed potatoes by boiling a kettle. Then measure out the instant potato powder and put it in a medium sized mixing bowl. Get all the other ingredients ready and to hand – peel and crush the garlic with the salt etc. Reboil the kettle, and measure out 1 cup (use the same you used for the potato powder), dissolve the stock cube or powder into it.  Add immediately to the potato powder, and mix quickly with a round-ended knife.  Measure out another half cup of the just-boiled water, add and mix. Add all the other ingredients. I like my mash a little stiff, but if you think it’s too stiff, add a little more of the just boiled water.
  4. Put the tin of confit of duck in a sink of hot water (or in a warming oven if you have one) to soften the fat and make it easier to separate.
  5. Open the tin, and pour out the liquid duck fat (save this for making roast potatoes). Separate the meat from the bones and skin, shred very roughly – just get it off the bone. 
  6. Roughly chop the chicken livers, taking out any gristle.
  7. Fry the onion and chicken livers in a tbsp of the duck fat.
  8. Add the duck meat. Season generously,  and keep warm.
  9. In an ovenproof casserole (ideally a glass one) put first a layer of duck meat, then a layer of tomato sauce, then the mashed potato, and dot with a little butter.
  10. Cook for ten minutes until it’s golden on the top, sprinkle with a little paprika.
  11. Serve!



If you’re interested in learning about game, we have an episode all about it on our podcast Serving Up Sustainability! You can listen below. 


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