Julia Child opened our eyes to the wonders of Haute French Cuisine, and better yet, she taught us how to bring the magic of four-star restaurants into the comfort of our own homes. She was responsible for bringing the classic dish of Duck L’Orange out of France and into the American mainstream following the release of her book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” We loved it then and we think it deserves a proper place in your dinner repertoire now. As a nod to Julia (around her birthday), we want to honor her time-tested recipe. Here, it gets a little bit of an update though as we like to add in some earthy vegetables that will help to balance out the sweetness. While it is normally reserved for special occasions, there’s no reason you can’t indulge in its luxury whenever you feel the urge. To bring it into your regular kitchen rotation, use duck breasts instead of roasting off an entire bird.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes
4 boneless duck breasts
2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
4 medium carrots
4 stalks celery
2 large navel oranges, quartered
⅓ cup sherry vinegar
¼ cup of sugar
4 cups chicken stock
¼ cup orange liqueur
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place a large cast iron or ovenproof skillet over high heat, then lightly coat with a small amount of vegetable or canola oil.
Using a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a grid pattern, cutting about three-quarters of the way through the fat and being careful not to cut into the meat. Season the skin generously with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in the pan and lower heat to medium. Cook without moving for five or so minutes, until skin is golden brown and releases easily from the pan. Turn off the heat and move the duck breast to a plate. Drain all but one-quarter cup of the duck fat from the pan (reserve fat for another use).
Cut the carrots and celery into four-inch pieces, then add to the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss well in the rendered duck fat. Squeeze the oranges into a bowl; set the juice aside and put the orange sections into the pan. Place the duck breasts skin side up on top of the vegetables, tent with foil and roast for forty-five minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers at 135 degrees. Enjoy!
Suggested Wine Pairing: Lake Sonoma Pinot Noir 2014
Allison Robicelli is a James Beard-nominated writer, cookbook author, humorist, chef/owner of the highly-acclaimed Robicelli’s Bakery, occasional TV personality, raconteur, wife, mother, and all-around good time.