Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Duck a l'orange

My career in domestic goddessing has not been without its glitches. Once I set The Gentleman's oven on fire. Another time I burnt one of his beloved Le Creuset pots as I was caramelizing carrots (?) for sushi (?!). Bent knives remind of my "we don't need any of those Japanese miracle knives they sell on QVC that cut through soda cans and soles of shoes"- attempts to saw cubes of frozen seafood. The all time low would still probably have to be the time I gave him a food poisoning.

At one point some years ago there was a legendary recipe circulating in American glossies called "The Engagement Chicken". It was named that because it was so good and comforting in a way only a  home-cooked meal is that several women who cooked it for their significant others were proposed to as the men realized this was exactly the kind of woman they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with.

I approaches this challenge with carelessness and always-as-elegant "how hard can that be"- attitude. Well, featuring an entire bird, very. I went on waiting for that proposal for another four years - that night we were both far too busy running to the loo...

Since then The Gentleman has been in charge of cooking endeavours of that scale. I have strived to keep mine smaller (both in scale and in ambition...)

Duck is my favourite dead animal and one we eat quite often - it, too, being so cheap in Spain. Around Christmastime shops sell whole ones and even those sell for €10.

Duck in orange sauce is so retro it just might be downright tragic. Though mine is´n't very sweet but in it's spiciness rather Christmasy. Perhaps this marks its comeback...?

For 2

2 duck breasts (appr. à 350 g)
salt, pepper

Orange Sauce

4 dl chicken stock
2 dl freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp orange marmalade (not sweet)
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
1/2 tsp cardamom
2 cloves
1/4 tsp ginger (dried is fine)
1 tbsp sugar
knob of butter
salt, pepper

Take the duck ito room temperature at least an hour in advance. Heat the oven 200°.

Pat the ducks dry, score the fat side with a sharp knife almost all the way through to the meat. Season. Put the duck in a cold pan, fat side down and then start bringing the heat up.This way the fat melts, keeping the duck moist but without burning. Once the fat side has a good, brown colour, turn around and cook the other side until beautifully browned. Move the duck in the oven and continue cooking for 4-8 minutes, depending on the desired doneness. I like mine very rosé, so I'm a 4-minute-girl.  Wrap the duck in foil and let rest for 10 minutes. This gives the meat and the juices the chance to recollect their composure (a.k.a. redistribute the juices evenly)  and stay moist.

In the meanwhile make the sauce. Pour the stock and the juice into a pan with the spices and cook over fairly high heat until it starts reducing. Add marmalade (mine was tangy kind, but if you must use the sweet one, you might want to tone it down with a little dash of soy sauce) and sugar. Whisk until smooth and run through a sieve. Add orange zest, check taste, season as/ if needed and add a know of butter to round up the flavours and to add a nice sheen to it.

Serve the duck with sauce and roasties (that duck fat rocks when frying potatos!) or grilled veg. Such as asparagus.

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