Duck a l’Orange

Duck a l'Orange

I love this easy version of the classic duck à l’orange. It’s inspired by Pierre Koffman’s recipe for wild duck in orange sauce in Memories of Gascony and is simpler than most because it doesn’t require stock, just fresh orange juice. When they’re in season, I love to use Peter Dryden’s Poorman’s Oranges, otherwise Seville oranges work well. For this recipe, an old-fashioned citrus zester is preferable to a microplane as the long thin strands of zest are better in the sauce. I like to serve duck à l’orange with a simple green salad and steamed rice, to soak up all the sauce, though potatoes or crusty bread work well too. The tart sweetness of the sauce needs a wine with a bit of complexity, like Delatite’s MansField white blend of riesling, pinot gris, gewürz, sauv blanc and viognier.

Serves 4

 

Ingredients
  • 4 x 200g duck breast fillets, skin on
  • 3 large oranges
  • Salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup dry white vermouth
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
  • 40g cold butter, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau
Method
  1. Remove duck from fridge 30-60 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 100°C.
  3. Zest and juice 1 orange and segment the other 2; set aside (see my video on how to segment citrus).
  4. Pat the skin of the duck dry with paper towel and, using a very sharp knife, cut fine diagonal score marks through the skin, without cutting into the meat, in a criss-cross pattern.
  5. Salt skin generously.
  6. Place duck, skin side-down, in a frying pan.
  7. Place over medium-high heat and cook for about 7 minutes, pouring off the fat as it melts, until skin is golden.
  8. Turn duck over and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  9. Remove duck from pan to a plate, skin side up, and place in oven to keep warm.
  10. Add vermouth to the pan and bring to the boil, stirring to remove any bits stuck to the pan.
  11. When vermouth has reduced by half, add orange juice and zest, honey and vinegar and boil for a few minutes, until reduced by half.
  12. Taste and add salt and pepper. Remove from heat, whisk in butter then stir in Cointreau and orange segments.
  13. Slice breasts, arrange on plates and top with sauce.

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FAQ

The correct French name is canard a l'orange, or caneton à l’Orange if using ducklings. The Italians call it anatra all'arancia (or paparo alla Melarancia to use it's Tuscan title). In English it should be duck in orange sauce, but the Franglish version of duck a l'orange seems to be more popular.

Louis-Eustach Ude, London's most popular French chef in his day, is widely credited with publishing the first recipe for it in his 19th century book, The French Cook, he called it Canetons à la Bigarade (ducklings in bitter orange). Some suggest it came from Tuscany to France with Catherine Medici and others that its sweet and sour flavour and use of oranges, suggest a Middle Eastern origin.

Poorman's Orange is an unusual citrus first recorded in Australia in 1820 and now grown near Wollombi in the Hunter Valley of NSW. It has a balanced sweet-sour flavour, with a tropical fruit complexity and cleansing, slightly bitter finish. It's the tastiest orange I've ever had!