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    Mallard with Spätzle, Chestnuts and Pomegranate

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    Mallard with Spätzle, Chestnuts and Pomegranate

    The roast mallard here could happily be replaced with other lean game birds such as grouse, partridge or teal.

    • Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting
    • Cooking time: 55 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting 60 minutes 25 minutes

    Serves: 4


    • 2 large mallards, wishbone removed
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 65g butter, plus extra for greasing
    • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and bruised
    • 2 thyme sprigs
    • 2 shallots, finely chopped
    • 2 medium carrots, peeled, diced and steamed for 5 minutes, until tender
    • 75g vacuum-packed chestnuts, roughly chopped
    • 50g pomegranate seeds
    • 1 tsp chopped sage
    • Spatzle
    • 15g butter, melted and kept warm
    • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
    • 150g plain flour, sifted
    • 3–4 tbsp whole milk, warmed
    • nutmeg, to taste


    1. First, make the spätzle. In an electric mixer, ideally with a paddle attachment, combine the butter with the egg and yolk. Add the flour and gradually pour in enough warm milk to make a fairly loose dough. Mix for 5 minutes. Season and add a good grating of nutmeg. Cover the bowl with clingfilm; leave to rest for 30 minutes.
    2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Use a spatula to push the mixture, in batches, into the boiling water through a wide-holed colander to create small-dumpling-type pieces.
    3. Cook for up to 1 minute – they will float to the surface when ready – remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a buttered, warm bowl covered with clingfilm while you cook the rest.
    4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. In a large pan, colour the mallards in the oil and 25g butter for 5 minutes, until browned all over. Season well, transfer to a roasting tin and pop the garlic and thyme inside the ducks. Cook for 35–45 minutes; they should be pink. Leave to rest in the tin.
    5. Melt the remaining butter in a wide pan, add the shallots and cook for 3–4 minutes, until soft. Increase the heat, add the spätzle, and lightly colour for 2–3 minutes. Stir in the carrots, chestnuts, pomegranate, sage and a spoonful of juice from the roasting tin. Adjust the seasoning.
    6. To serve, cut the duck legs away from each body. Cut the breasts carefully away and carve each into two nice pieces. Divide the spätzle between four warm plates, rest a duck leg and halved breast on top and spoon over any juices.

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