Regardless of how little you know about duck, you can't go wrong with its à l'orange preparation; the acidity of a sweet-tart orange glaze cuts through the fowl's robust flavor. Go all out by reducing the orange juice and segmenting fresh oranges to serve alongside the roast; otherwise, a pre-made glaze like orange marmalade does the trick. Make either version when you keep reading.
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts or walnuts
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 small bunch asparagus, trimmed to 4 inches and sliced 1/2 inch thick on an angle
3 scallions, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (a generous handful)
2 duck breasts
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup dry sherry
- In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter; add the nuts and toast for 2 minutes. Stir in the rice and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, add the asparagus and cook, covered, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the scallions and parsley.
- Using a small knife, make shallow cuts in a crisscross pattern into the skin of the duck breasts; season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, place the duck skin side down and cook over medium-low heat until the skin is crisp, about 15 minutes. Pour off the fat and flip the duck breast. Add 1/2 cup water, the marmalade and sherry, cover and cook for 5 minutes for medium-rare.
- Thinly slice the duck and arrange on 2 plates. Spoon the sauce on top and serve with the rice.
- Main Dishes, Poultry
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
4 large oranges
2 1-pound boneless Muscovy duck breast halves, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
- Stir sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in vinegar (mixture will bubble vigorously). Add juice and shallots; boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Add broth; boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, 30 minutes. Set aside.
- Using small knife, cut off peel and white pith from 4 oranges. Working over bowl, cut between membranes to release segments. (Sauce and oranges can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover separately; chill.)
- Using small knife, score duck skin (do not pierce meat) in crosshatch pattern. Sprinkle duck with salt and pepper. Heat heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Place duck breasts skin side down in skillet. Cook until brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Turn duck and cook to desired doneness, about 10 minutes longer for medium-rare. Transfer to cutting board. Let stand 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring sauce to simmer. Add butter and 1 tablespoon grated orange peel; whisk just until butter melts. Drain orange segments and mix into sauce. Set aside.
- Slice duck breasts crosswise on diagonal. Arrange on 4 plates. Spoon orange segments with sauce alongside. Sprinkle with remaining peel.
Makes 4 servings.
- Main Dishes, Poultry