A simple recipe for Duck a l’Orange

Old school but delicious!

The duck we can buy at supermarkets here in Portugal is so cheap compared to prices in the UK and elsewhere, and mostly very good.

There are many ways to cook duck and the typical Portuguese arroz de pato is a favourite of mine, as is a nice Thai red duck curry. But last week I had picked up a nice fruity Côte du Rhone red whilst browsing the French wine section at my local Intermarché supermarket and, following the French theme, decided to pair it with a simple orange duck recipe, something I often cook at home using the reliably good duck from the supermarket’s butcher.

When cooking duck, I always like to dismantle it and get the most out of the bird, making sure that the legs and thighs are tender and crispy and the breast meat pink – and, of course, using the carcass to make the sauce.

Separating the legs and thighs from the body and removing the breasts is easy, but the butcher will be happy to do it if you prefer.

The first step is to get the legs/thighs slow roasting. Make a rub of garlic, crushed black pepper, thyme, orange zest and a little olive oil, then rub this over the meat on the underside (save some rub for the breasts).

Sprinkle both sides with a little sea salt then place in the oven to roast at 120°C for two hours (or 90° for three hours if you have the time). This will leave the meat moist and tender. For extra crispy skin, put the oven on grill setting for the last few minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure the skin doesn’t burn.

Whilst the legs are roasting, make a stock from the carcass. Chop it up into manageable sections along with the wings, and fry until golden brown in a frying pan, rendering off most of the fat at the same time. Add the bones to a saucepan with some celery and leeks, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain the stock then place back in the pan and reduce by half. Now add a glass of Port wine or, even better, a mix of Port and Madeira, along with the zest and juice of one orange. Reduce again by half then thicken with corn starch. Orange sauce made!

Finally, half-an-hour before the legs/thighs are ready, cook the breasts. Score the skin side in a criss/cross pattern with a sharp knife taking care not to cut through to the meat.

Season with salt and pepper and the remaining rub then place in a cold non-stick frying pan (no oil is required); heat slowly allowing the fat to render and the skin to start to crisp. I like the meat pink, not rare, so cook it gently for around 5 to 7 minutes each side, then leave to rest for at least 5 minutes before carving.

Serve the breast meat sliced alongside the crispy legs with some orange wedges (more for visual effect) and a bowl of the sauce on the side. Bon appétit!

By PATRICK STUART [email protected]