Braised Duck Tacos (Tacos de Carnitas de Pato)

  • Serves

    serves 6


Slowly braised duck infused with the aroma of Mexican cinnamon and orange is shredded and pan-fried until crisp in this recipe from chef Roberto Santibanez. It first appeared in the iPad edition of our December 2013 issue with the story The World of Duck.


  • 3 lb. duck legs
  • 1 12 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 head garlic, halved horizontally
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced, plus one small, finely chopped
  • 1 (4") piece Mexican cinnamon, broken in half
  • 1 medium orange, quartered
  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 34 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Salsa, such as tomatillo and pineapple or peach pico de gallo, for serving (optional)


Step 1

Heat oven to 350°. Combine duck, 1 1⁄2 tbsp. salt, plus garlic, sliced onion, and cinnamon in a 6-qt. Dutch oven. Squeeze the orange quarters over the duck and add the spent oranges to the pot; toss to combine and arrange duck skin side up. Cook, covered, until duck is very tender, about 2 1⁄2–3 hours. Let duck cool in the pot, then transfer to a cutting board. Shred meat into large chunks, discarding skin and bones. Strain pan drippings through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup; chill until fat solidifies on the surface. Reserve 1⁄4 cup fat; save remaining fat for another use.

Step 2

Heat reserved duck fat in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Cook duck, stirring occasionally, until slightly crispy, 3–5 minutes. Season with salt; pile into warm tortillas and garnish with chopped onion, cilantro, and lime wedges. Serve with salsa, if you like.

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