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Duck Breast With Orange Sauce

If you crave Duck à l’Orange, but you don’t feel up to roasting a whole duck, try this version with pan-fried duck breasts instead. Be sure to try my recipe for Duck à l’Orange as well!

4 boneless duck breasts
Salt and pepper for seasoning

2 oranges, sectioned
60 ml Cointreau or Grand Marnier

Orange Sauce
30 ml sugar
60 ml red wine vinegar
300 ml chicken stock
160 ml orange juice
30 ml corn flour (Maizena)
45 ml water

  1. Remove the duck breasts from the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook them.
  2. To make the garnish, peel away the very outer part of the orange, using a vegetable peeler. Avoid including the white pith as it has a bitter taste. Cut the orange peel into rough strips about 1/2 inch wide. Square off the edges of each strip using a sharp knife and then slice each strip into very thin julienne. Place the julienne pieces into a shallow pan of cold water, bring to the boil and blanche for two minutes (this will soften any bitter taste remaining in the orange peel). Transfer the orange julienne pieces to a bowl and add the Cointreau or Grand Mariner on top of the orange peel and allow to soak. Slice off the very top and bottom of the orange. Using a sharp paring knife, remove each individual orange section, cutting in-between each membrane. Place the orange slices in a bowl and cover with a bit of orange juice to keep moist while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  3. To make the orange sauce, combine the sugar and red wine vinegar in a saucepan and whisk over medium high heat for several minutes until the mixture turns a deep reddish-brown color. Add the orange juice and whisk over medium heat until the mixture reduces to about 50% of the original volume. Add the chicken stock and continue to reduce until the sauce turns a dark brown- a further 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180 ° C.
  5. To cook the duck breasts, trim the fat around the edges of each breast and score the skin in a criss-cross pattern using a sharp knife. Your knife should only slice through the fat and not puncture into the duck meat. Season both sides of each breast with salt and pepper.
  6. Add a small amount of oil to a fry pan and place over a high heat. Sear the scored fat side of each duck breast first for about three minutes until golden brown and crispy. Turn the breast over and cook for about four minutes over medium heat.
  7. Remove each breast from the pan and make a small incision on the bottom, about an inch deep- this helps to cook the inside of the breast more easily. Now wrap each breast in foil and place in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, until the inside is cooked until pink in color. If the inside is still red, continue cooking for another few minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest covered in foil for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the fat from the fry pan; over medium heat, add some water or stock to the pan and use a spatula to scrape the brown ‘cooked bits’ off the bottom of the pan (de-glaze). Stir and then add this liquid to the Orange Sauce.
  9. To finish the Orange Sauce, add the Cointreau or Grand Marnier that was used to soak the orange julienne slices. Continue to whisk the sauce over medium heat until it reduces further. Combine the cornflour and water in a small mixing bowl and make a paste. Add it to the Orange Sauce and continue cooking until thickened.
  10. To plate the dish, slice the duck breast horizontally into thin slices, pour some sauce over the top of the meat and garnish with the orange peel and some orange slices.

Photo credit:
Recipe adapted from the original recipe by Fran Flint/