Pasta with Smoked Duck, Beetroot, and Orange

I like the Italian way of having a primo piatto of pasta or rice first, followed by a secondo piatto of meat or fish. We often eat like this, and for this particular evening I had planned to serve first pasta with beetroot and then smoked duck leg with orange sauce. Because I thought the flavors would work together nicely, I decided to turn this into a piatto unico and serve everything together instead. I liked the result, but it was less ‘Italian’ than what I usually make because there were a lot of flavors on the plate. So pick for yourself whether you’d like to serve this all together or separately.

Something I tried for the first time and liked was to smoke the duck leg first, and then finish cooking it sous-vide. Just like with brisket or pulled pork, this technique works very well as the smoky flavors penetrate all the way through the meat during the sous-vide cooking, and the meat turns out very tender, juicy, and flavorful.


For 2 servings

2 duck legs

zest and juice of 1 orange

1 tsp honey

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp smoking dust

1 bunch of beetroot with greens

150-200 grams (.3 – .4 lbs) pasta, I used mafaldine


Season the duck legs with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put the duck legs in a stovetop smoker with the smoking dust.

Hot smoke for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool off to room temperature.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Otherwise you will suck out all the juices when you vacuum seal the duck legs.

Vacuum seal the duck legs.

Cook sous-vide for 24 hours at 64.5C/148F.

Separate the beets from the greens, reserving the greens and the stems. Peel the beets and cut into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) cubes.

Put the beetroot in an oven dish and toss with olive oil. Roast in the oven at 225C/450F for 20 minutes.

Chop the stems and add them to the beets after the first 20 minutes. Toss to mix and add some more oil if needed. Return to the oven and roast for another 20 minutes at 225C/450F or until the stems are crispy and the beets are cooked.

Chop the greens.

Reserve the juices from the sous-vide bag.

Allow the duck legs to cool off until you can handle them.

Remove the skin off the duck legs and reserve. Take the meat off the bones. Discard the bones.

Chop the meat and the skin separately.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the duck skin and allow the fat to render and the skin to crisp up.

Cook, stirring, until the skin is crispy and the fat has rendered. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta, and cook until al dente according to package instructions.

Now add the greens.

Sauté until the greens have wilted.

Add freshly squeezed orange juice…

…as well as grated orange zest. It is easiest to zest the orange before juicing it.

Add the duck juices from the sous-vide bag. In this case there is no need to remove the scum from the sous-vide juices first.

Allow to cook over medium heat until the sauce has thickened somewhat.

Lower the heat and add the meat. Stir in the meat and allow it to heat up.

Add a teaspoon of honey and stir to incorporate it. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

As soon as the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the duck sauce. Toss to mix.

If you timed everything perfectly, the beetroot should now be nice and crispy. Season with salt to taste.

Serve the pasta with the duck sauce on warm plates, with the crispy beetroot around it.

18 thoughts on “Pasta with Smoked Duck, Beetroot, and Orange

  1. Stefan, this looks delicious. I love duck. And I really enjoy the taste of roasted beetroot. Since I don’t own a sous-vide cooker, I will smoke the duck in my foil-lined wok and then roast it in the oven.


  2. hey Stefan, looks great! i have a couple of questions. Regarding the smoker, I have never used one. I dont have a yard, and my kitchen isn’t well ventilated, could I still use one of these? the other question is regarding the color of the duck legs, after being sous vide’ed they turned that dark? I wonder why.


    1. Thanks, Paul!
      I wouldn’t recommend doing the smoking inside with proper ventilation, because there will be quite a bit of smoke coming into your kitchen. If you use one that comes with its own burners like me, you could use it outside wherever, though. Perhaps on the pavement outside your house? 😉
      The duck legs were already quite dark after being smoked. During the sous-vide cooking, juices will leak from the meat. In case of red meat like duck, those juices are red. The red of the juices and the brown of the smoke mixes and becomes the dark color you see in the picture.


      1. yeah, my closest pavement strip is still very far… I have a little balcony, and I have done some grilling and illegal meat smoking there.. dont ask please 😉 I mean, my apartment complex doesn’t allow for any grilling/smoking unless you use propane. Good to know about the duck legs color, they looked delicious on their own!


        1. The balcony should be fine! You can always use a propane burner for heating up the smoker 😉
          You are right that the duck legs look delicious on their own — they would also be great with a simple orange sauce and some broccoli.


  3. Beautiful dish, Stefan. Love the flavor profile with the sweet earthiness of the roasted beets, the smokiness of the duck and the brightness of the orange. Just wonderful.


  4. I love duck, I braise it with ample of caramelized onions and dried Persian plums, which gives it caramelized sweet and sour taste. Your smoked flavored duck with orange juice, honey and beets is brilliant!


  5. I never would have thought to combine these flavors, Stefan, in a pasta. Beets were never used in this way. The plating looks incredible, though, and if you liked the result, it must be good. Thanks for sharing.


    1. John, I would not have expected you or any Italian to think of combining these flavors, as there are simply too many flavors on the plate for an Italian dish. They do work together though.


  6. Stefan, I recently acquired a Sous Vide Supreme and am at the frantic stage trying to read everything I can get my hands on to get up to speed on this innovative product. Your blog has helped, encouraged and inspired me to jump in with both feet. I love the idea of smoking before finishing the meat in the SSV. I currently have a Cameron stovetop smoker but find it limiting because of its size. I like the size of your smoker and the fact that it is self-contained. I haven’t found anything like it on the internet. May I ask the brand and where you bought it? Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and experience. They are invaluable.


    1. Hi Linda, thanks for your nice message.
      I bought the smoker from a cooking utensils shop here in the Netherlands. They are made in China and sold under many different brand names. I’ve tried to google it for you, but haven’t found it in the USA? They are called “smoke oven” rather than “stovetop smoker”. Good luck!
      If you have any questions about sous-vide cooking, just let me know.


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