One of our favourite dishes is Duck Breast with Orange Sauce. Not difficult to make and the result is always tasty. Use a combination of fresh orange juice, thyme, rosemary, butter, Mandarine Napoléon, Cointreau, chicken stock and/or orange peel to make a tasty, not to sweet sauce. Mandarine Napoléon is preferred because it gives bitterness and depth to the sauce. The juicy meat, the sweetness of the duck and the orange, the nice aromas, the herbs and the velvety mouthfeel of the sauce make this an excellent combination.
Last week we were lucky, very lucky when we spotted Orange Amère on our local market. Bitter Orange! Also known as Seville Orange, Bigarade Orange or Pomerans. Finally! The ideal ingredient to make Orange Curd, Marmalade and of course Orange Sauce.
We bought a handful and as soon as we were at home, we wanted to taste it. The Bitter Orange does not contain much juice, their seize is similar to that of a clementine and the seeds are relatively big. The taste is sweet and gentle at first, and then you have bitterness, some astringency and length. Wow! We rushed to our butcher, bought an excellent magret de canard and later enjoyed a perfect Duck Breast with Orange Sauce.
Bitter Oranges are normally available from late December until the end of February. Ask your greengrocer!
Perhaps you’re looking for some extra inspiration menu-wise for the Holiday Season? Let us help you with a few suggestions.
It’s of course great to serve a glass of Champagne, but why not start with a glass of Crémant de Bourgogne or Alsace? Or a Spanish Cava? The fun is that you can buy a slightly more expensive Crémant or Cava and enjoy a refined sparkling wine. Serve with Terrine de Foie Gras on toast or with a small prawn cocktail, served in a peeled tomato.
Scallops with fluffy cauliflower purée is a wonderful combination of flavours. The practical advantage is that you can prepare the purée a day ahead and grilling the pancetta is also something you can do in advance. Serve with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Dry, some acidity, touch of fruit.
Canard à l’Orange, served with steamed Brussels sprouts and potatoes fried in butter: a dish that supports the festive character of your evening: sweetness, a touch of bitterness and crispy, rich potatoes. Enjoy with a beautiful Bordeaux. In general you’re looking for a powerful red wine, with aromas of berries and a touch of oak. The flavour must be round and long with subtle tannins.
We tend to go for the classic combination of Stilton and Port. Spend some money and buy a Late Bottled Vintage Port.
Continue the British tradition and enjoy a slice of Christmas Pudding with a coffee and a glass of Cognac or Calvados. No need to serve the pudding with brandy butter.
Preparing Duck is always a pleasure, whether with green peppers or with Szechuan, the result is tasty and your guests will be happy. So let’s revisit another classic from the 1960’s: Canard A l’Orange is a delicious combination of duck with a multi-layered orange sauce.
So what did we change compared to the 1960’s-recipe? We don’t use a whole duck, due to the lack of availability but also because cooking a whole duck is far more challenging than cooking a whole chicken or turkey. We also don’t use (caramelized) sugar and we use butter instead of flower or corn starch to create a nice, velvety sauce.
A classic wine from the Bordeaux region will be wonderful with your duck. We enjoyed a glass of Château Cap Saint-Martin Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux Le Cabernet d’en face 2017. This wine is made from 100% Cabernet-Sauvignon grapes, which is to be expected for Bordeaux wines from the left bank of the Gironde. Hence the d’en face (opposite or other side) in the name, because Blaye is situated on the right bank of the Gironde (where Merlot is the dominant grape for red wine). In general you’re looking for a wine with soft aromas of dark berries, vanilla and spices. On the palette it should be round with present tannins. A wine that will combine with the sweetness and depth of the sauce in combination with the rich, juicy and slightly sweet duck meat and its crispy skin.
Check the breast of duck for remainders of feathers. Remove the vein on the meat side of the breast (and the odd membrane you don’t like). Put on a dish, cover and transfer to the fridge. Leave in the fridge for a few hours, making sure it’s nice, firm and cold. Fry the duck (straight from the refrigerator!) in a hot, non-sticky skillet for 10-12 minutes on the skin side. Reduce the heat after a few minutes. You don’t need oil or butter, the duck fat will do the trick. Now fry for 2-3 minute on the meat side and remove. Cover with aluminium foil in such a way that the crispy skin is not covered. The foil should only cover the meat. The skin must remain crispy. Clean the orange, make thin zest and press the orange. Remove some of the fat and add stock, a generous amount of zest, orange juice, garlic, thyme and Mandarin Napoleon. Stir and make sure the garlic becomes integrated in the sauce. Allow to reduce by half. Add liquid from the duck. Taste and adjust. Later on butter will be added softening the taste so at this stage the flavours need to be clearly present. You may want to add some mustard to push the flavours and help the sauce emulgate. Add more of the duck’s liquid. Reduce the heat and add cubes of cold butter. Keep stirring, taste, add black pepper, perhaps extra thyme and plate up. We served the duck with green beans (olive oil, freshly grated nutmeg) and fried potatoes.