This is a modern rendition of a nineteenth-century recipe that ultimately became the legendary canard a l’orange, though it bears little resemblance to the gloppy 1960s version of duck a l’orange served in this country. This is much lighter and just a little bitter. Citrus and waterfowl are a perfect pair, and they both happen to be in season at the same time. Any skin-on duck breasts will work with this recipe, but I prefer Muscovy or large wild duck breasts. Serve this dish with roasted or mashed potatoes, polenta, or a wild rice pilaf. A soft white wine is a good choice here, such as a Viognier, a Roussanne, or an oaky Chardonnay.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds duck breasts
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Basic Duck Stock or chicken stock
  • Juice of 1 orange, preferably Seville (½ cup)
  • 1 shot glass Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • ½ sweet orange, quartered and thinly sliced

Preparation

Step 1

Remove the duck breasts from the refrigerator, salt them well, and set them aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Step 2

Pan sear the duck breasts. You may have to do this in batches. When the breasts are cooked, set them aside skin side up on a cutting board and let them rest, tented with aluminum foil.

Step 3

To make the sauce, pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan and place the pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and stir to combine and make a roux. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, until it is the color of coffee with cream.

Step 4

Add a pinch of salt and stir to combine, then slowly stir in the stock, orange juice, liqueur, and vinegar. Everything will spatter at first, but mixture will calm down.

Step 5

Add any accumulated juices from the duck to the sauce. Let this boil down until it is a little thinner than the consistency of Thanksgiving gravy.

Step 6

Add the sugar, then taste and adjust with salt. If you want a more refined sauce, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.

Step 7

To serve, slice the breasts. Spoon some sauce on each plate and top with breast slices. Garnish with the orange zest and orange slices.