Roasted Duck with Herbs and Orange Sauce

Monday, April 18, 2011

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"And if I don't like duck?"

"Then I'm afraid you're rather stuck!" (Fawlty Towers)
How do I go about selecting recipes to write up for this blog? Mainly it's based on what I or my husband want to eat. Sometimes it's a spur of the moment kind of thing (like the chocolate cake, or the shrimp bisque). Sometimes I find things at the food store that draw my attention or that I find intriguing, which help inspire a meal. Yesterday we stumbled upon whole ducklings that our food store has decided to put out in anticipation of Easter. I noticed my husband wouldn't move and just kept staring at them.
"You want duck?" I asked.

"Yes I want duck."

"Alright. Put it in the cart then."
Who am I to deny this man life's little pleasures? Duck he shall have! I quickly ran through a list of ingredients one would possibly need for duck: meat thermometer that previously got lost in the transcontinental move, sage, parsley, thyme, navel oranges, Granny Smith apples, shallots, and since the recipe is somewhat French in origin, naturally, also distilled wine derivatives.

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The following recipe is a spin on the classic Canard à l'Orange. It is effectively three different recipes in one. First is the duck roast, second is duck stock, and third is the sauce. If you're feeling adventurous, or have a hungry spouse on your hands, you can also make pâté out of the liver at the same time and serve it as an appetizer (recipe will be posted tomorrow). No part of duck should be wasted. Neck and gizzards should go in the stock, liver should go in the pâté. Once you have roasted and carved the duck, do not throw away the carcass, but freeze in a Ziploc bag and when you're ready, make soup from it.

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A note on the sauce. The orange sauce uses duck fat. A lot. Also with butter. I am not big on fatty foods, but the sauce is something otherworldly and the taste is, simply put, heavenly. So make an exception and say yes to natural, wholesome homemade cooking and, more importantly, say yes to duck fat. Or, if not, please refer back to the opening quote.

Roasted Duck
(serves 4 to 6)

You will need:
3-4 lb whole duckling, gizzards and all
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
5-7 sprigs of thyme, stems removed (run your fingers backwards along the stem to remove the leaves)
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped into wedges
2 navel oranges, 1 chopped into wedges (for stuffing), 1 cut into round slices (for decoration)
2-3 shallots or 1/2 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
Equipment: meat thermometer, roasting pan or deep ceramic dish (oven-proof) large enough to fit the duck

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425, position rack in middle of the oven. Rinse the duck under cold water, remove neck, gizzards and liver from the cavity; save them for stock and pâté (if making). Rinse the inside of the duck. Pat dry with paper towels.

2. In a small bowl mix together parsley, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. In another bowl mix together apple and orange wedges with chopped shallots. Rub the duck, inside and out with herb and seasoning mixture. Stuff the duck with apple, orange and shallot wedges (discard anything extra). Secure the wings behind the bird's back, tie legs together with twine or make two small incisions next to the legs and use them to secure the drumsticks. Put the duck in the roasting pan and place in the oven. Cover the round orange slices and refrigerate.

3. Roast the duck at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350. Roast the duck at 350 for about 1 hour and 25 minutes, longer if needed. The duck is done when the meat thermometer inserted into the duck's thigh reaches 170-175 Fahrenheit (otherwise the duck will be too dry). Then, increase the temperature to 400 and roast the duck for 5 to 10 minutes more for the skin to crispen. Turn off the heat and prop the oven door ajar until duck is ready to serve. While the duck is roasting, make stock and sauce.

Duck Stock

You will need:
Duck neck and gizzards
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 onion, peeled and chopped
Salt, pepper to taste
Bay leaf, and or other herbs such as dried parsley, oregano or herb mix

Directions:
While the duck is roasting, place the duck parts into a medium saucepan or small pot and fill with 3-4 cups water. On medium-low heat, bring to a boil. Add carrot, celery and onion and stir. Once the stock begins to boil again season with salt and pepper and herbs, stir and let simmer covered on low heat until vegetables are done, about 30 minutes. Strain the stock, reserving the liquid and discard the solids. You will need 1 1/2 cup for the duck sauce. You can save and refrigerate the rest for later use.

Orange Sauce for Duck

(Sauce recipe adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

You will need
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 medium orange)
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/2 cup duck stock (recipe above)
A splash of port or Madeira, plus about 1/2 cup more
1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
Duck fat from the roasting pan (about 1 cup)
1-2 tbsp Triple Sec
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
Equipment: 3 separate small saucepans, a wooden spoon, a whisk

Directions
1. In a small saucepan, on medium heat, mix together sugar, orange juice and vinegar with a wooden spoon and bring to a simmer. Cook until the mixture is reduced in volume and becomes thick and syrupy. Slowly add 3/4 cup duck stock and stir with the wooden spoon until the syrup is dissolved. Add the rest of the stock, a splash of port or Madeira, orange zest, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Once the duck is almost done, carefully spoon out the duck juices into a separate saucepan. Add 1/2 cup port or Madeira, and bring to a boil on moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is greatly reduced (to about 1/4 cup) and fat starts to coagulate. Carefully strain the duck fat into the orange sauce mixture and bring everything to a simmer, stirring. Add Triple Sec and simmer for 1-2 minutes more.

3. In a yet separate saucepan, on low heat, melt butter and mix together with flour until homogeneous. Quickly pour the orange duck sauce into this saucepan, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. You will see an emulsion form (fat and water substances combine together with the help of the flour). Continue whisking the sauce for 3-5 minutes until lightly thickened. Turn off the heat, and pour the sauce into a gravy boat.

Assembling the Duck
Carve the duck and serve, decorated with round orange slices, with the orange duck sauce. Serve it together with potatoes or other vegetables (we had chopped boiled potatoes drizzled with olive oil, mixed with fresh chopped parsley, sage, and scallion, and seasoned with salt and pepper).

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