Duck a L'Orange -- one of the most copied French recipes of all time -- first rose to fame in the 1960s. French cuisine made its debut in America thanks in part to this famous recipe that features seared duck breast glazed with a sweet orange sauce. It's been a popular way to cook duck for decades.
Orange matches well with duck because the citrus cuts through any fattiness, yet it remains sweet, unlike lemon. What more can you ask? This sophisticated dish is an excellent addition to party menus and romantic dinners. The easy sauce can be prepared ahead of time, and you can sear the duck right before serving.
Choose plump duck breasts -- referred to as duck magret in French -- with a good layer of fat. Don't shy away from the fat. Much of it is rendered in cooking and can be used in a host of other recipes, including this classic Pommes Sauté.
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
- 1½ cups orange juice
- 2 tablespoons shallots, minced
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 4 oranges, sections cut from membranes
- 2 duck breast halves, seasoned with salt and pepper
- ¼ cup cold unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
Preparing the Orange Sauce:
Boil the sugar and water for several minutes until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden brown color. Add the vinegar, juice, shallots and chicken stock and simmer until the sauce is reduced to a little less than a cup.
Cut the butter into small pieces and add them to the pan with 1 tablespoon of orange zest. Shake the pan over medium heat until the butter has melted and is incorporated into the sauce. Stir in the orange sections.
The sauce is now ready and can be cooled and stored until you're ready to prepare the duck breasts, or you can set it aside and proceed with cooking the breasts.
Preparing and Cooking the Duck Breasts:
Dry the breasts with paper towels. Slash through the fat on the breast with a sharp knife to create a crisscross pattern. This will help release the fat, and the fat will crisp up when cooked. Sprinkle both the meat side and the fat with a little sea salt and pepper.
Heat a skillet over high heat. Sear the duck breasts quickly on both sides, then cook the duck for about 9 to 11 minutes on each side.
Remove the breasts from the pan and place them on a warm plate. Cover them with paper towels and leave them to rest for 5 minutes. This helps to soften the duck after cooking.
Reheat the sauce. Place the duck on a hot plate, either whole or neatly sliced. Spoon the sauce over them. Garnish the plate with the remaining orange zest and serve immediately with Pommes Sauté and green beans