Gruem vel anatem {duck in spiced gravy}

Gruem vel anatem {duck in spiced gravy}

The produce from Game Farm is something I’m all too familiar with as I occasionally use their birds at home in some kind of dish such as the stuffed quail I did recently. The party pack I received from Game Farm ( I call it a party pack because the variety of birds it contained was worthy of a party!) had a bunch of lovely birds in it that I was eager to start prepping into delicious edibles.

A large duck is what I’ve started off with and rather than just cook it up in any conventional method – not that there’s anything wrong with that – I thought I’d give this Ancient Roman recipe a burl.

Gruem vel anatem – or duck (or crane) in spiced gravy. The flavours here are truly delicious and what makes it is the collection of spices in the sauce.

Gruem vel anatem recipe

Gruem vel anatem recipe

gruem vel anatem {duck in spiced gravy}

serves 4 modern humans – or 2 ancient Roman gluttons


  • large duck, about 1.3kg
  • Water, enough to cover
  • Rock salt, handful
  • ½ bunch fresh dill
  • 150 ml duck stock
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 3 sprigs fresh coriander
  • Large pinch each of black peppercorns, lovage (celery seed), cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds & rue (I used dried rosemary)
  • 100 ml red wine, boiled
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 50 ml coroenum (use dessert wine)
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Flour, to thicken


Place the whole duck in a large stock pot and cover with water. Add the rock salt and dill and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Remove the duck from the pot, drain well and place onto a baking tray. Take 150 ml of the stock from the pot and pour over the duck. Keep the remaining stock for another recipe. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil, a little sea salt and ground black pepper. Arrange the sprigs of oregano and coriander around the duck. Roast the duck for 1½ hours, basting several times during cooking.

For the sauce, grind the peppercorns, celery, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds with the rosemary in a mortar. Put the ground spices in a small saucepan, add the red wine, honey, dessert wine and vinegar. Set aside.

When the duck has been roasting for 1½ hours remove it from the oven and drain the cooking juices into the saucepan containing the sauce ingredients. Increase oven temperature to 340°C and cook the duck for a further 20 minutes to brown the skin.

Meanwhile bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for about a minute. Make a roux with a little flour and water and add just enough to the sauce to thicken it slightly. Don’t over-thicken.

To serve, cut the duck into portions and plate up with the sauce.

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