Marks Daily Apple
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30 Jan

Duck Carnitas Tacos

Mexican carnitas are made from meat that’s been slow-cooked in fat. Usually, this means pork braised in lard. But duck legs covered in a thick layer of fatty skin are ideal for this sort of cooking. Not only do you end up with easy, really delicious duck carnitas, you’ll have a little extra rendered duck fat in the pot to use for future cooking.

The tender, shredded duck meat is fried briefly to crisp up the edges, then it’s tossed with a cabbage slaw made from red cabbage, radishes, jalapeno peppers and cilantro. This combination of ingredients makes the slaw a brightly colored, sulfur rich, Vitamin C packed powerhouse…but you don’t have to think about that while you’re eating it. Just focus on how delicious the cool, crunchy, spicy slaw tastes with rich, crispy morsels of duck.

Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 25 minutes hands-on, plus 2 hours to braise duck legs


  • 2 pounds duck legs (900g)
  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder (5 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided (5 ml plus 2.5 ml)
  • 1 white or red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 1/2 a small red cabbage, finely chopped
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (240 ml)
  • 1 or 2 jalapenos, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (60 ml)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (80 ml)


Heat oven to 350 °F/176 °C.

Season duck legs on both sides with five-spice powder and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of the salt.

In a Dutch oven or lidded baking dish that snugly fits the duck legs, combine the duck legs, onion and garlic. Squeeze the orange wedges over the duck. Add the pieces of orange to the pot.


Cook covered until duck is very tender, which should take about 2 hours.

Let the duck cool then shred the duck meat off the bones.

While the duck is in the oven cooking, combine cabbage, radish, jalapeno, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Whisk together lime juice, olive oil and remaining ½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt and pour over cabbage mixture. Mix well. Refrigerate while the duck finishes cooking. Taste the slaw again before serving, and add more salt as needed.

cabbage slaw

Heat a tablespoon of the rendered duck fat in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the shredded duck meat, cooking just a few minutes until crispy just around the edges. Don’t let the meat get too crispy, or it will be dry.

Serve the duck meat and slaw on Primal tortillas or on a thin omelet. Or, ditch the idea of a tortilla completely and serve these duck tacos in a bowl as a duck carnitas salad.

Duck Carnitas 2

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Genius! Now I just need to find some duck legs.

    Keith wrote on January 30th, 2016
    • Yeah, I know. They aren’t readily available where I live either. Maybe special order from a butcher shop–or check out the pond in the local city park. Actually, I think chicken would be a good no-hassle substitute. If you have a pressure cooker, cooking time could be reduced significantly with no loss of flavor.

      Shary wrote on January 30th, 2016
  2. Nice

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on January 30th, 2016
  3. The slaw sounds awesome. But as much as I love carnitas, I just can’t bring myself to eat duck. I had ducklings as pets as a kid.

    Elizabeth wrote on January 30th, 2016
  4. Sounds awesome, I think I will do it as a salad. My daughters boyfriend like to duck hunt but he must have crappy aim, have not got a single one yet!!! Thanks Mark and Bee’s for something new every day!

    paul wrote on January 30th, 2016
  5. Nicely done; will be served by next Friday dinner

    Time Traveler wrote on January 31st, 2016
  6. You are really alienating your base with these ridiculous, arcane recipes…….

    Walter Morris wrote on January 31st, 2016
  7. These carnitas look great! Can’t wait to try them out!

    Yvette Mills wrote on January 31st, 2016
  8. Made these last night with chicken thighs as I don’t like duck, and they were fantastic! We ate them without any wrappers, just slaw and meat. Thanks for the creative idea.

    Julie wrote on February 4th, 2016

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