Today’s recipe is a new way to look at the classic Duck a l’Orange. A luscious orange sauce is paired with a fresh and sassy citrus salsa that cuts the richness and adds a bright acidity to the plate. You wind up with a lighter, refreshing version perfect for special occasions all year long.
This recipe combines two techniques to cook the duck, pan-searing and braising. Searing the breast skin-side down gives it a beautiful deep golden color, renders the fat and gives you perfectly crisp skin. Then flip the duck over, add liquid and braise until it is finished cooking. It works perfectly every time!
The best part is that you get extra duck fat to use to fry potatoes – there is nothing better on the planet! 🙂
You cook duck breasts more like beef than poultry – you want to serve them medium to medium-rare for tender and moist meat. If you overcook it, it gets really tough and chewy. The best way to know when it is ready is to use an instant read thermometer. I don’t know what I did before I had one!
I know people who say they don’t like duck. I think they were served duck that wasn’t properly cooked. Unless you are out hunting your own or have a hunter in the family, the ducks today are raised like chickens and are mild flavored – not gamey at all. Duck has all the richness of beef and is a healthy choice. It is also packed with protein, zinc, selenium and vitamins B-5 and B-12. I love it when delicious food is also good for us!
Pan sauces are my favorite because they utilize the delicious flavors you’ve developed during searing and sautéing, turning them into remarkable sauces to serve with the proteins. You can change the seasonings and liquids to create a myriad of flavors.
I’ll be honest, fennel isn’t my favorite vegetable, but when it is paired with fresh oranges, I could eat it all day. Today I added Gourmet Garden’s new Lightly Dried Cilantro and Chile Pepper flakes, adding complexity and a bit of heat. This chilled and refreshing salsa is a beautiful counterpoint to the hot, savory and luscious duck. Adding a green vegetable gives you a healthy and complete dinner that is elegant enough for any special occasion.
Make the salsa first so it has time to macerate and the flavors can bloom while you prepare the duck and sauce. You can make it up to a day ahead, saving you time on party day. Be sure to bring it out of refrigerator to warm up when you start making the duck and everything will be at the right temperature when you are ready to serve.
Gourmet Garden’s Lightly Dried herbs are the perfect solution to busy weeknight meals – they are fresh herbs that hold in the refrigerator for 4 weeks after opening the package and you can add a pinch to your recipes whenever you want. No more leftover herbs wilting in the refrigerator and being thrown away. I hate the waste!
These packaged seasonings (basil, cilantro, parsley, chile pepper, and ginger) are just like fresh; full of flavor and texture. Pop them into soups, sauces, salads, casseroles … anything you can think of. When you want a little sprinkling of green on the top of foods for garnishing, add a pinch of parsley, cilantro or basil. This holiday season, look to the Gourmet Garden Ginger for a gingerbread cake that will have your guests raving! And any time you want to kick up the heat, a pinch of the chile pepper flakes is just the ticket. 🙂
The Artist and I really enjoyed our dinner. Rich, decadent and such a treat. I hope you will make it during the holidays for the perfect festive meal!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
One of the challenges of cooking dinner is having everything ready at the same time and served piping hot. Set out all of your dinner plates, set the table and have everything ready to go before you start cooking the duck. When you are ready to make up the plates, you will have everything you need to get dinner on the table in no time!
This dish is naturally gluten-free and Gourmet Garden herbs and Lightly Dried products are all gluten-free.
- Orange Sauce
- 1-1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
- 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Cilantro
- 1 tsp Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Parsley
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Pan-Seared Duck Breasts
- 2 duck breasts
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- Orange-Fennel Salsa, recipe below
- Combine the Orange Sauce Ingredients: In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the juice, stock and wine. Whisk in the cilantro and parsley. Set aside.
- Prep the Duck Breasts: Using a very sharp knife, score the fat cap of each breast in a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat beneath. (See photo above.) Sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cook the Duck Breasts: Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the duck breasts, skin side down. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and cook until the fat has rendered and the skin is golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Don’t move it so the skin can get really crisp. Use tongs to flip the breasts over and brown the meat side. Sprinkle the shallots around the edges and cook for 1 minute, stirring them often. Spoon all but about 2 tbsp of the fat into a bowl. *
- Add the orange sauce ingredients to the pan. Continue cooking the duck, keeping the sauce at a low boil until the duck registers 140°F in the center on an instant read thermometer, about 5 to 7 minutes. Timing will depend on the size of the breasts. Remove the duck from the pan and place on a plate; tent with foil to rest. The duck will finish cooking and come to temperature while resting.
- Increase the heat in the pan and boil the sauce, reducing it until syrupy. If you take it too far, add a little more orange juice, whisk in and it should be perfect.
- To Serve: Slice each duck breast crosswise holding the knife at an angle to the cutting board and fan the slices out on the plates. Place about 5 slices on each serving plate, drizzle with a little orange sauce and serve with the Orange-Fennel Salsa alongside. Depending on the size of the duck breasts, this recipe will serve up to four people.
- Yield: 2 to 4 servings
- * Reserve the duck fat to use for frying other foods such as potatoes - it is heavenly! Store in an airtight container in the freezer up to 3 months.
- 3 navel or blood oranges, washed and patted dry
- 1 small fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped very finely
- 3 tsp Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Cilantro or Parsley
- 1/2 tsp Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried Chile Pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the orange vinaigrette (below)
- Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
- Orange Vinaigrette
- 2 tsp finely grated orange zest (from the oranges above)
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (some from oranges above)
- 1 tbsp champagne, white wine, or sherry vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch xanthan gum (optional; helps keep dressing emulsified)
- 4 tbsp organic olive oil
- Honey or agave syrup, if needed
- Prepare the Oranges: Zest one of the oranges and set the zest aside to use in the vinaigrette. Using a very sharp knife, cut the ends off the oranges, then following the curve of the fruit, slice the peel and all the white off the orange. Cut the peeled oranges in half and slice the orange halves into small chunks. Reserve any accumulated juice for the vinaigrette.
- Make the Vinaigrette: In a bowl, combine the zest, juice, vinegar, and a pinch of salt and let stand for 15 minutes to dissolve the salt and infuse the flavors. Whisk in the xanthan and oil, and season with a little pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Because the sweetness of oranges varies, the balance may be off; add more vinegar or oil as needed. If too tart, add a little honey or agave. Cover and store dressing in the refrigerator.
- Assemble the Salsa: Place the orange chunks in a deep bowl. Add the fennel, onions, chile peppers, and cilantro. Toss gently with enough vinaigrette to coat lightly, add a couple pinches of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Toss gently again, taste and adjust seasonings. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate. It is best if you let the salsa sit for about an hour for the flavors to bloom. Can be made a day in advance.
- Bring out of refrigerator 30 minutes before serving to warm up slightly.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Create a New Tradition Today!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received compensation and products for recipe development. As always, all opinions are my own.
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