When we lived in Ireland duck was something I cooked every week or every other week at home. I mastered the art of it and then when we moved to NYC I wasn't cooking much at all so my duck cooking skills diminished a bit. Luckily for you guys (and my wife), I am back on the duck train and we are eating delicious duck & orange sauce again! This ain't no ordinary duck & orange sauce recipe, in fact, there is a whole heap of other exciting ingredients going into the sauce so read on and find out my friend!
HOW TO COOK DUCK BREAST
This is the part I think that stops everyone from cooking duck more often. Duck breast is VERY unforgiving. Cook it too little and it's gonna be chewy, overcook it and you have brown, dry and livery tasting meat!! Here is my fool-proof way of cooking duck breast.
Start with scoring the skin, use a sharp knife and DON'T cut all the way down to the meat. The fatty skin is going to protect that delicate meat as we cook it. Next, season the duck generously. I actually like to do this way in advance (at least an hour) and let it hang in the fridge. The salt will draw the moisture from the skin giving you a crispier more brown skin.
To cook your duck breast place the duck skin side down into a cold pan on low heat. Leave it alone for about 8 minutes, don't swirl the pan, don't poke the duck just LEAVE IT. After 8 minutes a good % of the fat will have rendered out and you will have a nice crispy looking skin, flip the bird 😉 and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Next, place the duck on a wire rack on a baking tray and cook it @ 180c for 2 - 3 minutes or until the duck is 52c internal temperature.
CLASSIC ORANGE SAUCE - WITH A TWIST
As mentioned above this classic duck a l'orange has a bit of an AnotherFoodBlogger twist. Using some ingredients from one of my favourite food suppliers SloFoodGrp I have put my twist on it by adding some spices (vanilla, anise & cinnamon) along with a little maple syrup too. What's better yet IS you literally just chuck all the ingredients in and let them reduce. Whisk in a knob of butter at the end and you are left with my updated version of the classic duck a l'orange sauce!
RESTING YOUR MEAT
I can't stress this enough when cooking any meat. Rest it! Different cuts require different resting times but they are all equally as important. If you don't rest your meat then when you slice it you will be left with a pool of liquid or blood on your plate and the beautiful meat will dry out. The purpose of resting the meat is to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. With duck, you want to rest the meat for a minimum of 8 minutes before slicing. Follow my 'how to cook duck breast' instructions and rest the meat correctly and you will be a winner next dinner party!
SMOOTH CARROT PUREE
I know, I know - you read carrot puree and your mind jumps to baby food! Don't worry though I can promise you this dish is 100% adult. Firstly, it contains salt 😉
To make carrot puree it really is very simple. All you need is carrots, water, butter & salt and you can whip up a simple and delicious carrot puree. Simmer the carrots in water, salt & butter. As they cook some of the water will evaporate and you will be left with the right amount of water to pop it all in the blender and blitz it up. I like to mash mine with a fork before blending to help them on their way and also if you want to be extra fancy pass the carrot puree through a sieve at the end to ensure no lumps are remaining.
It wouldn't be dinner without a nice glass of wine to accompany this delicious duck & orange sauce dish. Once again, my boy, Dan has come up trumps (a little election joke!) with this delicious Curtis Family Limited Series 2016 Grenache. RRP of $100 but the guys have it for $70. Rated 94 points from JH this wine is no slouch. Even though it's 4 years old a solid hour in the decanter is recommended. Bursting with cherry and raspberry aromas along with hints of spice too. The palate offers similar with great structure, balanced oak and some nice vanilla undertones too.
OTHER DUCK RECIPES
Excited to cook more duck recipes then check out these dishes from myself and fellow food bloggers!
Duck w/ Rhubarb Ketchup by Yours Truly
Honey Roast Duck by Amy Casebolt Nash of 'House of Nash Eats'
Duck Terrine w/ Asparagus by Amanda Wren-Grimwood of 'Chez Le Reve Francais'
Hearty Duck & Port Ragu by Sara McCleary of 'Belly Rumbles'
Duck Stirfry w/ Plums & Peanuts by Brian Jones of 'Krumpli'
Happy Cooking & Happy Eating Friends!
- 4 duck breasts
- 8 spring onions
- 200 g carrots
- 40 g butter
- 120 ml fresh orange juice approx. 1 orange
- 1 vanilla bean cut in 1/2 lengthways
- 1 cinnamon
- 1 anise
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 250 ml chicken stock
- 1 pinch salt
- frying pan
- grill pan
- saucepan x 2
- wire rack
- baking tray
- Chef Knives
- Chopping board
- Place carrots, butter & pinch of salt in a saucepan, cover with 200ml water and simmer on low heat until carrots are soft (approx. 15 minutes) – start making the puree
- Mash the carrots and transfer carrots & remaining water/butter mix to a blender, blend until smooth
- If more water is required at a tbsp at a time until carrots are a smooth consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary
- Add all ingredients into a saucepan and simmer until reduced to 1/3 volume (approx. 10-15 minutes) – start cooking the duck
- Sauce should thicken up naturally and be of gravy consistency
- Whisk a knob of butter into the sauce to emulsify it - thickens it and leaves it with a nice glossy look too!
- Heat oven to 180c
- Score the skin of the duck gently with a knife, being careful not to cut the flesh
- Season generously with salt
- In a cold frying pan on low heat place duck skin side down and cook for 8 minutes undisturbed
- Flip the duck and cook for a further 2 minutes
- Place the duck on a baking tray with a wire rack and cook in the oven for a further 3-4 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 52c
- Reserve rendered duck fat for roasting some potatoes another time!
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 8 minutes before slicing
- While the duck is resting oil and season the spring onions
- Cook in a grill pan on medium-high heat for 2 minutes per side or until they are nicely charred
- you can finish cooking the duck in the oven in the frying pan BUT I prefer to use a wire rack on a tray. This allows for the air to circulate around the duck and cook it more evenly
- duck NEEDS to be well-rested. At least 8 minutes before slicing into it or else you will have a pool of blood on your plate and brown looking duck
- the sauce & puree can all be made in advance and reheated at time of serving – making this a great dish to serve at dinner parties!