Arroz con Pato: Peruvian-style Duck with Rice

October 3, 2015

This flavorful rice dish with duck is a legendary dish in Northern Peru. As with many cultural dishes, the recipes can vary widely among chefs and home cooks, but to prepare it appropriately and according to Peruvian tradition a few things are essential: good quality duck (free-range, no hormones or antibiotics) so the meat stays tender and flavorful, long grain rice, plenty of garlic, cilantro, cumin, and a heavy-handed pour of beer. This dish takes a bit of time and care, but the end result will have your dinner guests swooning with gustatory pleasure.

Arroz con Pato: Peruvian-style Duck with Rice
Makes 8 portions
Courtesy of the San Antonio CIA

Note: I learned to make this authentic Peruvian recipe at the San Antonio Culinary Institute of America where I attended a Latin cooking boot camp; a day of cooking nothing but gorgeous South American dishes under the instruction of their head chef. Check out the complete list of Food Enthusiast courses here.


For the marinade:
2 Navel oranges, zested and juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ají panca paste
1 cup chicha de hora
2 free range ducks, quartered

1 red onion, diced and caramelized
3 cloves garlic, roasted

For the Ají Amarillo Paste:
1 pound frozen ají amarillo paste, thawed
2 tablespoons canola oil

For the Cilantro Paste:
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch spinach
Water, as needed
1 tablespoon salt
1 pinch baking soda
1 1/2 cups canola oil

1/2 cup zapallo or acorn squash, grated
1 cup chicha de hora
2 cups dark beer
2 cups duck or chicken stock
2 cups long grain white rice
1/2 cup fresh sweet peas
Fresh cilantro and sliced green onions for garnish


Combine all the marinate ingredients in a bowl, add the duck pieces and marinate overnight.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onion. Heat oil in a sauté pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until onions are deeply browned; about 45 minutes. Remove and set aside.

For the roasted garlic: wrap unpeeled garlic cloves in foil and place in a 400ºF oven. Roast until tender; about 30 minutes. Carefully squeeze garlic from the peels and set aside with the caramelized onion.

For the Ají Amarillo Paste:
Thaw the ají amarillo paste in a a colander. Slice the ajíes lengthwise and remove the seeds and veins using a spoon; discard the seeds. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and blanch the ajíes until yellow foam rises to the top of the water, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain. for a milder flavor ají paste, blanch 1 to 2 more times. Transfer the ajíes to a blender and purée with the canola oil. Pass the ingredients through a fine mesh sieve. Cool mixture completely and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

For the Cilantro Paste:
Rinse the cilantro and remove and discard any tough stems. Fill a stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and baking soda. Blanch the cilantro and immediately transfer to an ice bath. Repeat the same process with the spinach. Squeeze excess water from the cilantro and roughly chop. Transfer the cilantro, spinach, and oil to a blender and process on high speed until completely smooth. Strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove any excess oil. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Remove duck from marinade, strain the marinade liquid and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat and sear the duck pieces on all sides. Remove duck from pan and reserve.

In the same pan, combine the caramelized onion, roasted garlic and 2 tablespoons of the Ají Amarillo Paste and cook the mixture like a sofrito (until the bottom of the pan is visible when scraped).

Add the grated acorn squash and 1 cup of the cilantro paste to the pan. Add the chicha de jora, dark beer, and duck stock to the pan and stir until well combined. Reduce this mixture by 1/8. Return the duck pieces to the pan, cover and simmer for 1 hour, until the meat is soft and tender.

Remove duck pieces from the pan and keep warm. Add the reserved marinade juices from the duck to the pan. Add the rice, peas, and cover. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, then fluff.

Place rice on a platter and top with duck pieces. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and sliced green onion.