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Duck a l'Orange - Backyard Grocery

Duck a l’Orange

duck a l'orange

Duck a l'Orange, frittes, and beans...very French.

I’ve been trying to get this post written and up for a few weeks now. Crazy how time flies when life is insane. But better late than never!

When I read about the Maple Avenue Market in my local paper, I knew I had to figure out a way to shop there. That’s not as dramatic as it seems: it’s only about a 10 to 15 minute drive, so very doable. The owners are just normal people who had big jobs and found farming more fulfilling. They work a small piece of land in Great Falls, VA, source from local vendors, and have the cutest little market ever.

The first time Rick and I stopped by, we were over come with the desire to get a duck. I have no idea why we decided we needed a duck, other than the kids were about to visit and Gavin loves duck. Chris, the owner, special ordered a 7-lb duck from the vendor (who is local, but I’m not sure where exactly), we gave him a deposit, and we agreed to come back in a week to claim it.

We had a moment of panic when a 4-lb bird arrived…we weren’t sure Gavin would leave any for the rest of us. As a 15-year old, he could easily eat the entire thing on his own. Actually, Anwen could too …the girl has a hollow leg! I guess when you order humanely harvest, fresh duck, you get what the farmer has.

When we told Anwen about the duck, she requested—out of the blue—Duck a l’Orange. How does a kid from New Hampshire get that in her head? French class maybe? But I was game, so I started scouring recipes, having never had it before or nor having any idea how to make it.

Recipes for this French classic vary. Some were very complicated, others seemed not complicated enough. I stumbled across Emeril’s recipe on the Food Network and it seemed just right.

I was going to use chicken stock because we couldn’t find dock stock anywhere. But when Rick stopped by the Springfield Butcher to pick up our gazillion pounds of venison sausage, he was able to pick up some duck giblets too. Julia Child supplied a great duck giblet stock recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I can’t even believe how easy it was to make! And good too.

juicing oranges

Anwen juices the oranges for her duck.

In theory Anwen was going to help make the duck since she requested it. Although when she found out it would take a few hours she said “Oh forget it, let’s do something else.” To which I replied: “I went to a liquor store during the holidays to make this. We will have it.” In the end, she juiced the oranges for me. The End.

The verdict? The duck was amazing. Tender and juicy, but not at all greasy. I attribute this to how it was raised and harvested. At $8/lb, it won’t become a staple, but I’ll make it for special occasions. The a l’orange sauce was rich and sweet. I prefer savory sauces, but if you like sweet sauces then this was totally worth all the work. In fact, we had a ton of sauce left over, which I have frozen for some future use.

eating the duck

Gavin enjoys his duck...notice the pile of bones.

What was really worth all the effort was the look on Gavin’s face as he ate it. I tried to capture it, but he got all shy and started goofing. But he really couldn’t hide the ecstasy for too long—he really likes duck. Anwen ate about three bites. But she is happy she finally got to try Duck a l’Orange.


Recipe: Duck a l’Orange

Summary: A classic French recipe, great for a special occassion.


  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, orange rinds reserved
  • 1 (4-pound) duck, cleaned, with innards, wing tips and excess fat removed
  • 2 oranges, zested
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Bitters
  • 1 1/2 cups duck stock (recipe link to follow)
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
    steps 1 through 3
  2. Roughly chop the orange rinds and place in the cleaned duck cavity.
  3. Place the stuffed duck on a baking rack over a baking sheet with 1/2-inch of water.
  4. Bake until skin turns golden brown and lightly crisps, about 30 minutes.
  5. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees and continue cooking until duck reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees, about 1 hour.
    making the sauce
  6. In the last half hour of cooking the duck,combine the orange juice, zest and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and reduce to 3/4 cup.
  7. Add the Bitters and set aside.
  8. Add hot duck stock to the orange/bitters and simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes to reduce.
  9. Add arrowroot mixture, to thicken.
    final steps
  10. Remove the duck from the roasting pan, and discard the fat from pan (there was absolutely no fat in the pan at all with this duck).
  11. Remove orange rinds from duck cavity. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.
  12. Add the liqueur to the roasting pan and place over 2 burners on medium high heat.
  13. Deglaze pan, scraping continuously with a large wooden spoon. Reduce for 5 to 10 minutes.
  14. Combine the liquid from the roasting pan with the orange sauce and mix.
  15. Pour the orange sauce in the pan into a gravy boat and serve with carved duck.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 2 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Culinary tradition: French

Copyright © Susan Rose.

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