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Duck a l’orange

French cuisine made its debut in America thanks in part to the famous duck a l’orange recipe.  The seared duck breast glazed with sweet orange sauce is a recipe which was served in fancy restaurants at the turn of the 19th century.  The first known written recipe in France dates back to 1828 (Ude). Its a sophisticated dish and as it isn’t time consuming or finicky to make its a good one for dinner parties or romantic dinners and always impresses.  This is a simple and easy recipe for a classic, great tasting French dish.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients for two people

For the sauce

1 orange

30g brown sugar

50 mlwhite wine vinegar

300 ml orange juice

2 tbps Countreau, Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

150 ml chicken  or vealed stock (thickened a little with some corn flour)

2 duck breasts

sprigs parsley, to garnish


1. Peel the rind from the orange in thick strips. Remove the individual segments from the orange and place to one side.

2. Cut half of the orange rind into thin strips of zest, discarding any excess pith. Bring some water to boil ina small saucepan and add the strips of orange zest and boil for 30 seconds before draining and refreshing under a cold tap. Set aside to drain thoroughly.

3. Combine the brown sugar and vinegar in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by half. Add the orange juice and orange liqueur, return to the boil and again simmer until reduced by half. Add the stock, return to the boil and simmer until the liquid is a sauce consistency – thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

4. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Score the skin side of the duck breasts with a sharp knife in a fine criss-cross pattern and season with salt and pepper. Place in a frying pan over a high heat and sear it skin-side down until the fat melts away and the skin is a deep golden colour. Turn the duck over and sear flesh side for 30 seconds.

5. Transfer the duck breasts (not the fat) to the hot oven, skin-side down, for 6-7 minutes (10-12 if they are large). When the duck skin is crisp, remove from the oven and leave the breasts to rest skin-side up.

6. To finish the sauce, add the blanched orange zest and bring to the boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and carefully add the orange segments and allow them to warm through.

7. To serve,  slice the duck and place it on the plate then put the orange segments on top of the duck and pour the sauce around it. Garnish with parsley sprigs before serving.

Serve with vegetables and sauteed potatoes or French mash.

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