Roast Duck with Orange Sauce (Duck a l’Orange)

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

By using duck breasts, or thighs in the optional Instant Pot recipe, you are able to reduce the time to prepare this splendid dish in around 1 hour, rather than the traditional hours and hours to roast the duck all without losing the unique flavors that made this dish a classic in the first place.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French, Parisian
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Large skillet
  • Roasting or baking pan
  • Optional: Instant Pot and broiler pan

Ingredients

  • 4 Duck breasts, about 12 oz each Use 4 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

Instructions

  • Sear Duck – Season duck breasts with salt and pepper and place skin side down in an uncrowded skillet over medium-low heat. in a skillet. 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 vinegar, standing off to the side, in small batches and continue cooking until mixture begins to caramelize, another minute. Add the orange juice, 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.

Instant Pot Duck a l'Orange

  • Press SAUTE button. Salt and pepper both sides of duck pieces. When display reads HOT, add a tbsp of oil and place duck pieces skin side down. If there's not enough room, do in 2 batches. Sear until each side becomes golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side. When done, remove pieces to a broiler pan.
  • Add 1 cup chicken broth to the pot and scrape up browned bits from bottom to deglaze. Pour in 1 cup orange juice and ½ cup honey into the pot, stirring until combined. Mince the orange peel slivers and stir in. Hit CANCEL to turn off to SAUTE function.
  • Place all 4 duck pieces back in the pot skin side up, close lid, and set release valve to seal. Select the PRESSURE COOK button and set time to 12 minutes.
  • When cooking is done, let pot sit for 10 minutes. Adjust oven rack to top and turn on broiler then turn the valve to manual release to release the remaining pressure.
  • Once pressure is released, remove lid and transfer to the same broiler pan used earlier. Put pan under broiler and crisp skins, maybe 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
  • While duck is under the broiler, turn pot to SAUTE again and add a slurry of 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water. Stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Cut the orange used for zest into thin rounds for garnish.
  • To serve, let duck rest for 2-3 minutes. Pour sauce from pot onto a serving tray and place duck skin-side up over the sauce. Garnish platter with orange slices. Diners can take a piece of duck and spoon sauce over top.

Notes

  • 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.

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