Duck a l’Orange or Canard à l’orange, as it’s known in France, is a classic French dish that’s origins may actually be Italian. In his famous poem Anara all’Aranceta, Antonio Cacciatore (yes, the same guy the Italians named that famous chicken dish after), talked about first seeing duck with orange sauce in Naples before migrating to Paris (the dish, not the ducks) where it was promptly renamed and lovingly embraced as French.
L’anatra All’arancia is also the name of an award-winning Italian film released internationally in 1975 as, you guessed it, “Duck in Orange Sauce”.
The classic recipe of roast duck with a bigarade sauce (sweetened bitter oranges) is updated here. Not only has cooking the classic French bistro favorite been adapted for today’s kitchens, but that sickeningly-sweet gooey dish that arose in the 1960s has long been put to bed. This dish is good, really good.
Duck a l’Orange- Roast Duck with Orange Sauce
- Large skillet
- Roasting or baking pan
- 4 half boneless duck breasts, about 8 oz each Use thigh quarters for Instant Pot version
- ½ cup Water
- ½ cup Honey
- 2 cups Orange juice, fresh squeezed Naval oranges preferred
- ½ cup Good store-bought chicken bone broth
- ½ cup Orange peels cut into 3-inch long strips then sliced long-ways into thin slivers
- Sear Duck – Season duck breasts with salt and pepper and place skin side down in an uncrowded skillet over medium-low heat. Slowly render the fat and crisp the skin, about 15-20 minutes. Remove and place them skin-side up on a roasting pan. Reserve and freeze duck fat for later.
- Make Sauce – Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Scrape up the tasty bits from the pan bottom with the water. Add honey and raise heat to medium-high for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Add the orange juice and reduce to half, another 10 minutes. Add chicken broth and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange peel slivers. You've now made gastrique.
- Cook Duck – Brush a layer of the gastrique over each breast and put in oven for 5 minutes. Brush the breasts again and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove and let rest for a few minutes.
- To serve, remove orange peels from sauce and reserve. Divide sauce between serving plates, pouring it on the bottom under the duck breast to keep the skin from getting soggy. Place a breast on each plate and sprinkle orange peel slivers over the top. Serve.
- If using orange juice from the market, be sure to get fresh squeezed and not concentrated.
- Crisp skin is essential to this dish so be extra careful not to burn it or let it get soggy.
- Although not necessary, adding a tbsp of Grand Marnier with the orange juice to the gastrique never hurts.