Canard à l'Orange
(French roast duck with orange sauce)
Image © iStockphoto
A French classic, canard, or caneton, à l'orange can seem intimidating. But it's actually quite easy to prepare. If you can roast a chicken, you can roast a duck. The trickiest part of the whole recipe is caramelizing the sugar for the sauce. Just take care not to let the sugar burn, and you should have no problems.
Duck à l'orange is great for dinner parties and romantic evenings.
4 to 6 servings
- Whole duck -- 1 (5-pound)
- Salt and pepper -- to season
- Oranges, medium-sized -- 2
- Sugar -- 1/4 cup
- Red wine vinegar -- 3 tablespoons
- Duck or chicken stock -- 1 cup
- White wine or port -- 1/3 cup
- Cornstarch or arrowroot -- 2 tablespoons
- Grand Marnier liqueur (optional) -- 3 tablespoons
- Butter, softened -- 2 tablespoons
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove the duck from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you put it in the oven and let it come to room temperature. Wash the duck with cold water, pat it dry with paper towels and then tuck the wings under the body to keep them from burning. Prick the duck skin all over with a skewer or toothpick. Trim any excess fat from the opening of the body cavity. Season the duck liberally inside and outside with salt and pepper.
- Set the duck on a rack in a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the lowest rack of the oven and roast for about 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350°F and continue to roast, basting with the pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes, until the duck is cooked through and the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh measures between 165°F and 175°F (use a meat thermometer). Depending on your oven and the size of your bird, this should take anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- While your duck is roasting, prepare the sauce. Zest the oranges, taking care not to get any of the bitter white pith. You'll need about 1 tablespoon. Next squeeze the juice from the oranges. You should get around 1/2 cup. Set the zest and juice aside.
- Add the sugar and vinegar to a medium-sized saucepan. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. Let the sugar cook until most of the moisture evaporates and the the sugar syrup begins to turn golden brown. Immediately remove the saucepan from heat and carefully stir in the reserved orange juice to stock the cooking. Take care, as the caramelized sugar is very hot and may splatter.
- Return the saucepan to heat and add the chicken stock. Whisk the sauce until the caramelized sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the reserved orange zest. At this point the sauce base can be set aside until the duck is finished roasting.
- When the duck is finished, remove it from the oven, tent it loosely with foil and set it aside to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove as much of the fat as you can from the roasting pan and add the wine or port. Place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium flame and bring the wine and pan juices to a boil, scraping up any bits of drippings off the pan. Strain the pan juices through a sieve and into the saucepan with the sauce base.
- Bring the sauce back to a simmer over low heat. Stir the cornstarch and Grand Marnier together in a small bowl to make a slurry. If you aren't using Grand Marnier, use white wine, chicken stock or water. Whisk the slurry into the simmering sauce to thicken it. Remove the sauce from heat and slowly whisk in the butter to enrich the sauce.
- Carve the duck and place it on a serving platter. Serve the sauce in a sauceboat alongside the carved roast duck.
Canard à l'Orange Variations
- For an extra special and colorful presentation, garnish your platter of canard à l'orange with peeled orange segments.
- A tablespoon of red currant preserves is sometimes stirred into the sauce at the end.