Duck l’orange

Posted on April 9, 2015


I adore French food, though from my recipe posts you wouldn’t think I cook it much at home. It would be a lie to say I cook French food frequently, but I definitely dabble in it. Duck l’orange is one such French dish I have made on a couple of occasions. _MG_9826 In a way, it was probably how the French make duck that made me fall in love with their cuisine in the first place. From the crispy confit versions to the super tender cassoleut. They sure know how to cook a duck. And this coming from someone who grew up eating lots of Cantonese roast duck and Peking duck, so I had a high benchmark to go on!

Being me, this isn’t a 100% pure French recipe for duck l’orange. The recipe has French roots, but I have adapted a couple of minor Chinese influences as well. Not huge things that would change the essence of dish, but small tweaks to enhance the recipe and add a bit of personal flair. Most notably, rubbing the skin with salt and 5 spice powder and drying out the duck skin overnight in the fridge.

Drying out the skin until it feels parched is a technique the Chinese use for Peking duck to ensure the skin crisps up nicely. When I’m time poor, I have been known to dry the duck skin out by blasting it with a hairdryer for ~20 minutes (if you adopt this approach just make sure you do the drying prior to the spice rub! Lest you blow spice all over your kitchen.). The 5 spice? Well the Chinese already serve their 5 spice laced roast duck with a plum sauce, so it’s a natural extension to match 5 spice with an orange sauce. How can you argue with that logic? 😉

I enjoy making my own stock, so it is by no exception that I made duck stock for the sauce. Homemade stock just taste better and is simply better for you. Plus, I wouldn’t know where to begin looking for packaged duck stock. Do they even sell it in stores…? I get my duck carcasses from a local Chinese roasting house, cover a couple of them in a pot of simmering water and just steep the flavour over 2-3hours. (Fyi Chinese roast ducks tend to be stuffed with shallots, spices and other good stuff, I leave these remnants in the carcasses and just strain them out later to get a full bodied and clear stock.)  If you can’t access duck carcasses and/or are time poor, chicken stock would be a reasonable substitute.

RECIPE – Duck l’orange (serves 4)


  • 1 whole roasting duck
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon 5 spice powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • strips of zest from 1 orange
  • 2 gloves garlic, bruised
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 shallots, quartered


  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white white vinegar)
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3/4 cup duck stock
  • 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 25g butter
  • starch slurry comprising equal parts corn or potato starch dissolved in water (I use about 1 1/2 tablespoon of each, but you may use more or less depending your preference for sauce consistency)
  • salt to taste (optional – I don’t add any salt to my sauce as the duck stock adds enough savory notes)


  1. Rub 5 spice powder and salt all over the duck. Place duck on roasting rack and refrigerate overnight uncovered – this is to dry out the duck skin. Putting it on a rack allows air to circulate all around the duck, making the drying, and later cooking, process more even.
  2. The next day preheat oven to 200°C. Return duck to room temperature and stuff its cavity with strips of orange zest, garlic, thyme and shallots._MG_9822
  3. Roast duck breast side up for 1 hour in 200°C fan forced oven. Reduce temperature to 180°C fan forced and cook for the final 30-40 minutes until cooked through and skin is crisp. Rest for ~20 minutes before carving._MG_9824
  4. Prepare sauce by caramelising sugar and water in a saucepan until a deep amber colour has developed. Add in vinegar, orange juice, duck stock and shallots. Bring to a boil then simmer for ~15 minutes.
  5. Strain sauce and discard shallots. Return sauce to pan and bring to a simmer. Add butter and season to taste. Once butter has melted add in starch slurry. Mix well to ensure the sauce thickens to a uniform consistency of your preference.
  6. Serve carved duck with orange sauce. Garnish with a sprig of thyme and slice of orange. I also plated mine up with mash and garlicky butter beans :)._MG_9831

This is a great dish for our current autumn weather. It strikes a good balance of being comforting without being too heavy. The warming nature of the roast game offset by the tart fruity notes from the citrus sauce. Bon appétit!

Posted in: Meats, MissC cooks