Canard A L’Orange {Roast Duck with Orange Sauce} #CookforJulia

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Canard A L’Orange is one of the most well known preparations of duck and not just the method that Julia Child created.

Described in The French Chef Cookbook “…roast duck decorated with fresh orange segments and accompanied by an orange-flavord brown sauce. Its most important element is its sauce…”

When I decided to take this recipe on, I wanted to transform it.  I wanted to take it from the formal dining room to an easy weeknight dinner. By swapping out a whole roasted duck for a duck breast my cooking time was drastically reduced. 

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The only big change to the recipe due to the swap was my inability to make duck stock for the sauce base.  Instead I swapped it out for some low-sodium chicken stock (homemade is best if you have it on hand); I still ended up with a flavorful sauce.  Also since I was not stuffing the duck cavity with any aromatics the amount of orange peel was reduced from the original amount as well. 

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As you know, I love my duck and I was really thrilled with how it turned out.  In fact, it was my first time, at least that I can remember having duck a l’orange.  The sweet and sour sauce plays off nicely to the succulent crisp and slightly fatty duck. 

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Canard A L'Orange {Roast Duck with Orange Sauce} #CookforJulia
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  • 1 large navel or Valencia orange
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 whole duck breast, split and trimmed of excess fat, skin scored in a cross hatch pattern
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups duck or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons port or Madeira wine
  • drops of orange bitters or lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter


    For the orange peel:
  1. With a vegetable peeler, remove just the orange rind - no pith, in strips. Cut into a fine julienne.
  2. Simmer for 15 minutes in a small saucepan to remove the bitterness. Drain and run under cold water. Dry with paper towels and set aside.
  3. Take the remainder of the orange, remove the pith and cut into skinless segments, set aside.
  4. Cooking the duck:
  5. In a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet over medium to medium low heat (adjust as necessary), place the duck skin side down. In a minute or two enough fat will render out to coat the pan. You may want to cover the pan with a splatter guard.
  6. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the skin is crisp and brown. Flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes for rare.
  7. Remove the duck and tent with foil. Carefully drain and save the duck fat.
  8. Sauce:
  9. While the duck is cooking, whisk the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan until the sugar is completely melted. Boil rapidly until the mixture turns a caramel brown color.
  10. Remove from the heat and stir in half the stock, bring back to the heat, reducing to a simmer, and whisk to dissolve the caramel.
  11. Remove again from the heat and stir in the rest of the duck stock, return to heat source.
  12. In a small bowl, blend the arrowroot with 2 tablespoons port and then add it to the stock.
  13. Add half the orange peel and simmer for 3-4 minutes, adjusting seasoning as necessary.
  14. Final assembly:
  15. Heat the pan that held the duck again (if there is a lag in time) on medium heat and pour in the port or Madeira wine.
  16. Scrape up the brown pieces with a wooden spoon and pour into the sauce base.
  17. Bring everything up to a simmer and add the bitters or lemon juice if the sauce seems a little sweet.
  18. Just prior to serving swirl in the melted butter 1 tablespoon at a time until the sauce is silky.
  19. Serve the duck sliced thinly with orange segments, additional orange peel and the sauce spooned lightly over.
  20. Pour remaining sauce into a gravy boat.


Regarding the duck fat, do not discard it! Duck fat is wonderful cooked with roasted potatoes, brussel sprouts, searing meat or even making caramel! To save it, strain it 2-3 times through a sieve or cheese cloth and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it will stay good for months. You will also need it for my next Julia Child recipe adaption!


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I hope you’ve been enjoying all the #CookforJulia celebrations and there is still more to come! Have you done anything yet to honor Julia Child?

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10 thoughts on “Canard A L’Orange {Roast Duck with Orange Sauce} #CookforJulia

    1. Susan

      It really is so much more doable as just duck breasts! Plus, I’ve tried to carve a whole duck, it is challenging. I don’t think people realize (at least I didn’t the first time) they are not built the same as chickens!

  1. Renee

    Foodie confession: I have never cooked duck. This looks so delicious and it must be since it is a Julia recipe. I am learning more and more about her and her recipes with the #CookForJulia event.

    1. Susan

      Renee! You must cook duck now! It is so easy and the reward is so delicious! Plus you end up with all the wonderful duck fat to use after. Confession, I have to two ball jars full of duck fat at home. I have a problem 🙂 Granted, I use it often, but I’m also refilling it, I got about 2 inches worth from just these two breast halves, so that tells you how much fat gets rendered.

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