By Scott Leysath

Rotisserie chickens are a popular item at grocery-store deli counters. Most are brined before being slowly roasted until they're crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. That's easy to do with chickens. They have a decent layer of fat, while wild ducks are quite lean.

After several attempts at cooking wild ducks on a rotisserie, I've decided that it's not for me. If the breast sections are cooked to medium-rare and juicy, the legs are still tough, chewy, and nothing like tender-cooked chicken wings.

Wild ducks require a little more preparation, especially the lean legs and thighs, which should be slowly cooked until tender. In this recipe the legs are braised before being breaded and pan-fried. When time allows, I'll make my barbecue sauce from scratch, but adding a few ingredients to store-bought sauce works just fine, too.

The bigger the duck, the better the legs are for this tangy appetizer. Mallards, pintails, and canvasbacks are among the species that have ample leg and thigh sections suitable for frying. The wings are also worth saving, but for most folks there's just not enough meat on the bone to make cooking them worthwhile.

Braising Time: 2 1/2-3 hours
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Frying Time: 2-3 minutes


  • 12 duck legs, braised until tender
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk
  • 1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, seasoned Italian or Japanese panko
  • Canola or safflower oil for frying
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons honey


Step 1
Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Place the breadcrumbs in a third bowl.

Step 2
Heat 3 to 4 inches of oil in a medium-sized heavy pot over medium-high heat. When ready, oil should be 340-360F. While the oil is heating, combine barbecue sauce with lemon juice, onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and honey; set aside. Roll the duck legs in the flour mixture, coat them with the egg mixture, and then roll them in breadcrumbs. Using tongs, carefully place the legs, one or two at a time, into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown and crispy.

Step 3
To serve, coat all the legs in the barbecue sauce or offer the sauce on the side.