Duck a l’orange was an iconic dish at the time that Abba were pumping out the hits and we were all (well perhaps not all!) into disco and glamrock. Although a popular UK dish from the 70’s/80’s it is not really a classic dish. In terms of fruit accompaniments for duck the more classic way is with black cherry. However having experienced my first restaurant meals during the 70’s I do have a bit of an affection for duck with orange. The classic norm would be to cook the duck and then produce an orange sauce which in many restaurants was a thick and sickly concoction essentially put together by boiling up a bit of orange juice with some thin shred marmalade. From our B&B in the South of France I have two takes on this dish to share.
1 At this time of year vegetables are limited so put some leeks, potato and carrots in an oven proof dish and cover them in orange juice and the herbs and seasoning that appeal to you. At the same time slice a large orange and cover the veg with the slices of orange. Put the dish in the oven heated to approx 190c. Cook them for about 30-40 minutes until they start to go tender. The next bit depends on how you like your duck, well done or nicely pink in the middle. Place a duck breast, magret de canard, on top of the oranges, and cook for however long to suit your taste. Remove the duck to rest and thicken the sauce again to taste. Serve the duck garnished with the cooked orange slices and some fresh ones on a bed of the vegetables. The veg will have absorbed the orange flavours to produce a really citrus taste to accompany the rich duck.
2 Another one pot dish. Roast whatever vegetables you like in the oven, sweet potatoes, parsnip and squash work well. Again according to how you like your duck add it to the dish when the veg are starting to soften but this time also put in a couple of whole unpeeled Clementines or Satsumas.
Like the previous dish the essence of the orange combines with the juices from the duck to give a fantastic complement of flavours. When you serve cut the orange in half and lay either side of the duck. The taste of the cooked orange really complements the duck, delicious!
Like all of the dishes at Chez Maison Bleue the principles are keep it simple, if possible use only one pot, allow the cooking process to fuse the flavours. Those flavours are vibrant and readily available here in the Languedoc but can also be found throughout the world. Don’t just follow the suggestions but innovate with your own favourite veg and flavours.