This delicious duck a l’orange recipe is a classic from the 1960s—but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It is very juicy, crispy, tangy and sweet.
There’s something about Christmas and oranges, isn’t there? Usually it’s a little clementine, but people often give whatever types of oranges they can find.
Diana and I wanted something a little more special for our weeknight dinner, and we found some great prices for duck legs at the store. I’ve always loved duck meat with a sweet glaze, and this recipe meets those requirements. Although the full recipe can be a bit time-demanding, there are some fantastic short cuts that will take only half the effort and time.
The recipe as I’ve done it makes use of a homemade stock and requires pan-roasting the duck legs. You can take short cuts to make it easier and faster.
We also substituted what we had in our kitchen, and the flavor was still strong. The only must you absolutely need to have is the oranges and the duck legs, and everything else can be adapted.
Duck a l’Orange
PREPARATION TIME: 15 minutes
COOKING TIME: 1 hour 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 45 minutes
Makes 2 servings
What do you need?
- 2 duck legs
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cube bouillon
- 3 oranges (or equivalent mandarins)
- 1/4 cup Gluhwein (or equivalent)
- salt and pepper, to taste
How do you make it?
First we’ll have to make the stock.
From the duck legs, cut off the extra pieces of fat and skin that is wrapped around the back of the leg. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the duck skin and cook until the duck fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Press and squeeze out as much of the duck fat as you can. Remove the cooked skin.
Add in the onions and thyme (it will smell delicious when it hits the oil) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are light brown, about 5 – 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the onions. Now, add in the celery, carrot, whole peppercorns, 3 cups of water and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil quickly and then let it simmer over medium heat for about an hour, occasionally skimming off the foam at the top.
Shortcut: As you noticed, I used bouillon. The duck skin doesn’t give that much duck flavor. You may skip the homemade stock entirely and use 3 cups of water and about 2-2.5 bouillon cubes.
Peel one orange and cut the orange into separate pieces. The orange pieces are for garnish, so be as careful or careless as you want. Drop the peel into the simmering stock and juice the remaining 2 oranges.
While the stock is simmering and getting the flavor from the orange peel, prepare the duck. Prick it all over with a sharp knife then sprinkle salt and pepper over the front and back. In a pan over medium heat (not medium high), place the duck skin-side down. Cook until it browns lightly, then flip over, about 10 minutes.
Now, you’ll notice there’s quite a bit of duck fat. Pour this off (save it for later—baking potatoes in duck fat makes them very, very crispy) and continue to fry the duck legs for about 20 minutes, flipping over once more, or until juices run clear and the duck is cooked.
Shortcut: Pan-frying duck requires your attention. Alternatively, preheat your oven to 200°C. Fry the duck legs, skin-side down for 5 minutes until the skin is crispy, then place the pan in the oven to cook for another 15-20 minutes. You can also remove the duck from the pan and place it on a baking sheet, skin side up.
The duck legs and stock will be done around the same time. Strain the stock. You can save the orange peel for garnish. Remove the duck legs from the pan and pour off the fat, but leave any browned bits in the pan (they add extra flavor).
Add the wine to the pan over medium high heat(most recipes call for Port or Sherry, but all we had was the Christmas Gluhwein). Let it burn off the alcohol and get thick for about 2 minutes. Stir to get the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Now add in the orange juice and duck stock. Boil, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
Now you can add the sauce on top of the duck or place the duck on top of the sauce, with orange pieces on top of the sauce.