Duck with orange commonly known in as Duck ala Orange.
Roast duck with orange commonly known as Duck a l’Orange.

Duck, Duck, Goose? Maybe the title of this post should be Duck, Duck, Duck! for that is what my family always requests for special occasions. Their favorite home cooked meal – and I must confess mine as well – is a special feast that begins with a duck liver paté. I prepare it while the duck roasts, which we enjoy as an appetizer with some good crackers or toasted French bread. The main meal consists of the roasted ducks with orange (duck a l’orange), rosti potatoes (crisp grated potato sautéed in rendered duck fat), wild rice, green beans with hazelnuts, and braised red cabbage with apples. However, a single dinner is not the end of the enjoyment for this regal fowl.

The next day after the duck carcass has cooled, I remove all of the meat, prepare a duck stock from the bones and then make a duck risotto with wild mushrooms and asparagus. I also like to save the duck fat, which can be stored for up to 3 months, and use it to sautée potatoes and other vegetables when compatible. This is delicious and better for you than butter.

Roasted duck with orange or Canard a l’Orange as it is called in its classical French name is one of the most famous preparations for this tasty bird. Duck is also prized in Eastern cultures, most notably in China where it is often prepared in the classic manner known as Peking Duck, which was originally created for the emperor of China centuries ago and is quite the laborious process. The method to make Peking Duck includes the use of a tire pump to loosen the skin from the meat, the dousing of the duck in a boiling flavorful liquid in a wok and then roasting it hanged from a hook in a special oven to create an extra crispy skin. After the duck is roasted its skin is then carefully trimmed and served with the meat and julienned green onions rolled in thin pancakes with Hoisin dipping sauce. If you have never tried Peking Duck I would highly encourage you to do so if you ever have the chance.

Both western and eastern techniques for roasting ducks produce excellent results. No matter which method is used, when done correctly and with care you can create a magnificent meal.

Here is my home recipe for roast duck with orange- a meal fit for king!

For more information on cooking techniques and products go to

duck trussed
Season with duck roasting spice, stuff with oranges and apples and then tie up the legs  prior to slow roasting on the wing bones, necks and mire poix.
duck stock
Halfway through the roasting process drain off the fat and remove the neck and wing bones. Sautee some more fresh mire poix in a small amount of duck fat, add the bones and cover with chicken stock or water to make a rich stock for the sauce.


Duck A l’Orange

Yield: 3 to 4 portions


1 whole duck 5 to 6 lbs.
2 Tbl Duck roasting spice (recipe to follow)
3 oranges
1 apple, cut in wedges
1 onion, peeled and large diced ¾” x ¾”
1 carrot, cut in ½” lengths
1 rib celery, cut in ½” lengths

 Grand Marnier Orange Sauce

¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbl Grand Marnier
½ cup orange juice, squeezed from 2 of the oranges
2 cups duck stock (Made with the duck wings, neck and ½ cup of mirepoix, 3 sprigs parsley, and water or chicken broth, enough to cover the bones)
2 to 3 Tbl Corn starch slurry (cornstarch mixed with equal parts water) to thicken

Optional -1 to 2 teaspoons orange marmalade and candied orange zest, if desired. Candied orange zest is made by peeling and cutting the zest into fine julienne and then blanching and rinsing the zest repeatedly until all of the bitter flavor is removed; the zest then is sweetened by the sugar.

 Duck Roasting Spice

1 Tbl ground bay leaves
1 Tbl ground thyme
1 Tbl rubbed sage
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground mace
2 Tbl Kosher salt or course sea salt
1 Tbl Ground black pepper

Method for duck roasting spice:

Blend all together in coffee grinder and store in a sealed jar.

Method for duck:

Remove the liver from the duck and use for the duck and apple paté. Remove the neck and gizzards. Discard the gizzards or reserve for another use and rinse the neck well.

  1. Place the neck into a roasting pan and cut off the wing bones at the second joint and place into the pan with the onion, celery and carrot (Mirepoix).
  2. Season the duck well inside the cavity and on the outside with 2 Tbl duck roasting spice.
  3. Cut the apple and one orange into quarters and stuff into the cavity and then place into the roasting pan on the mirepoix breast side down.
  4. Prick the duck skin around the legs and breast with a fork. This will help to allow the duck fat to be rendered out of the duck while it is roasting.
  5. Roast in preheated oven at 300F for 1½ hours.
  6. Remove duck from the oven and place it on a platter. Drain off the fat into a small pot. Also remove the wing bones and the neck and place into another pot. Add the mirepoix, and parsley and bring to a simmer while the duck finishes roasting. This is the stock that will be used for the sauce. Then turn duck over and roast for another 45 minutes at 300F.
  7. Remove from the oven and drain off the fat as in step 6 into the small pot. Then raise the heat to 400F and return the duck to the oven breast side up and continue to roast and crisp up the skin for 20 to 30 minutes. The duck is done when the leg joints are loose and the skin is crisp. When done remove from the oven and place onto a platter until sauce and all of the side dishes are prepared.
  8. While the duck is roasting clarify the fat in the small pot over low heat until clear and all the liquid is boiled away. Immediately strain into a bowl. This fat will be used to cook the rosti potatoes for a side dish and is also excellent to cook green beans or cabbage. Reserve leftover fat in the refrigerator for the risotto and other future uses.
To start the sauce mix equal parts sugar and red wine vinegar together and cooked down to a dark brown caramel. This is called a Gastrique, an essential step in making an orange sauce.

Method for the sauce:

  1. In a heavy bottom pot combine the sugar and vinegar and cook over high heat until a dark brown caramel is attained, swirling the pot often so as to cook the sugar and vinegar evenly.
  2. Take off the heat and add the Grand Marnier and squeezed orange juice and return to the stove. Reduce the heat to medium and bring to a boil.
  3. Add 2 cups of the duck stock and reduce by half.
  4. Whisk in the slurry until the correct thickness is attained; use more or less to create the proper thickness.
  5. Strain and add orange marmalade and candied orange zest if desired.