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.

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
I like my mash quite stiff, if you do too, you will have to cover the pie with blobs, filling in gaps with more blobs.


Recipe for Duckkeepers’ Pie 

Serves 4


  • 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.
  • 3 banana shallots
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 x 400g tin of whole tomatoes
  • fresh or dried thyme – couple of tsps
  • 120g chicken liver pate 
  • 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

Ingredients for the mashed potatoes:

  • 120g/1 cup smash instant potato
  • 240ml/1 cup just boiled water – but boil more, you will probably need it
  • 1 x chicken stock cube dissolved in it
  • 360ml/1½ 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 a quarter of a pack of butter (40-60g)
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
  • grated nutmeg


  1. heat the tomatoes with the thyme and the balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper (and a tsp of brown sugar) and break them up – this is the very simple tomato sauce which will go on top of the duck meat layer.
  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 to soften the fat and make it easier to separate
  5. open the tin, and separate the meat, shred very roughly – just get it off the bone. 
  6. fry the shallots in a tbsp of the duck fat (save the rest, it’s great for roast potatoes)
  7. add the duck meat and the chicken liver pate, if you are using it, to the fried shallots, add the vermouth or mulled wine, season generously,  and keep warm.
  8. 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.
  9. cook for ten minutes until it’s golden on the top
  10. 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. 


recipe for a pie using duck confit
Don’t forget to put a few more blobs of enticingly melting butter on just before you serve.



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