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duck À l'orange

duck with orange sauce

a real treat, and a tasty alternative to chicken

This is a tried and trusted duck dish, with just about every French mother having her own variations on the theme; some use marmalade to enhance the flavour; others would rather die than use marmalade.

The added bonus is that duck invariably produces lots of duck fat that can later be used to roast potatoes or other vegetables.

Prep: 30 minutes

Cooking: about 2 hours

Serves: 4


·         ½ large orange

·         1.8kg/4lb whole ready-to-roast duck

·         2 tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra to season

·         2 bay leaves

·         ½ onion, cut into four wedges

·         freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce

·         ½ onion, peeled and thinly sliced

·         4 tbsp orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier

·         75ml/2½ fl oz good red wine

·         1½ large oranges, freshly squeezed juice only (around 150ml/5fl oz)

·         3 tbsp orange marmalade

·         2 tsp cornflour (if you want a thinner sauce only use 1 tsp)


Preheat the oven to 210°C (400°F/Gas 6½).

·         Peel the skin off the half orange in wide strips; a vegetable peeler is fine for this. Place a stack of three strips on top of each other and trim the sides. Cut the strips into very thin julienne strips. [OR use a julienne peeler.] Set aside the strips.

·         Prick the duck skin lightly all over with the tip of a skewer or fork to help release the fat. Don’t be too heavy handed here.

·         Place the duck on a rack set inside a roasting tin. Place the orange half inside the duck, pushing towards the neck end (this helps to support the breast during cooking).

·         Add the bay leaves and onion.

·         Season the duck with the salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

·         Roast for 45 minutes.

·         Take the duck out of the oven and carefully take the rack off the roasting tin using oven gloves to hold it.

·         Tip any fat that has collected in the tin into a heatproof bowl, and reserve for future use. [Any excess can be left to cool, and used to roast potatoes at some future time.]

·         Place the rack back into the tin and return the duck to the oven for a further 35-45 minutes, or until the skin is golden-brown and crisp.

·         Remove the duck from the oven and check that it is thoroughly cooked. If not, return the duck to the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until cooked.

·         Transfer to a board or warmed serving dish. Cover very loosely with foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

While the duck is resting, make the sauce.

·         Drain all but one tablespoon of any more duck fat that has accumulated in the roasting tin into the heatproof bowl with the earlier lot.

·         Return the tin to the hob and add the sliced onion. Fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly until the onion starts to soften and colour.

·         Pour the orange liqueur and wine into the pan with the softening onion and allow to bubble for a few seconds.

·         Add the orange juice and 150ml/5fl oz cold water and simmer together for about 2 minutes, stirring to lift any of the meat sediment from the bottom of the tin.

·         Carefully strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a small non-stick saucepan.

·         Stir the reserved julienne orange strips and marmalade into the jus and bring to a simmer.

·         Mix the cornflour with one tablespoon of cold water in a small bowl until smooth. Stir it into the orange sauce and cook for 1-2 minutes more, stirring regularly until the sauce is thickened and glossy.

·         Pour any juices that have collected from the resting duck into the sauce and simmer for a few seconds, stirring.

·         Pour into a warmed jug.

·         Carve the duck at the table with an onion wedge for each person, pour a little of the sauce over and serve the rest separately.