Delicious and elegant roast duck, basted and stuffed with crimson colored blood oranges and fresh sage, and served with a citrus-sage and Lillet reduction sauce. An easy-to-follow roast duck recipe – and a super delicious way to say goodbye to summer and hello to beautiful fall.
When you think of roast duck, especially with a fruity and bright citrus-sage sauce like we have here, think of a year-round recipe. Rather, dream about roast duck all year-round. We do!
Ducks are eternally available – duck with grilled fruit is insanely delicious – and if you consider the fact that at least a few varieties of oranges are available all year round, duck with some kind of orange sauce deserves a place at your table.
Your only issue might be would you agree to a hot oven during late summer months? For hot or cold roast duck, no problem! And do you crave a sweet citrus sauce poured over top of said duck? And throw in a glass of Lillet over ice?
Blood oranges, either imported from Sicily or from groves in California or Texas are widely available these days. Officially, the season for Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinello blood oranges starts roughly in December and January, depending upon the variety, and runs through the cold weather months. However, it’s September now and I’ve been seeing blood oranges for the last few weeks.
A good tasting orange sauce for duck contains citrus flavors, a defined sweetness, and without a doubt, a mellow acidity. Sherry vinegar is our go-to vinegar these days, but for this roast duck we went with something a new to our acidity repertoire, cider vinegar. Thanks, J. Pepin.
For sure there is a certain amount of sweetness and acidity in fresh squeezed blood orange juice, but cider vinegar gives the sauce a little extra pop.
Now if we had planned ahead, we’d have also used duck stock for the sauce rather than chicken. I have a sense that since duck stock is not all that readily available for most, there must be flexibility on this point.
In any case, the base chicken stock used here was homemade – which almost always makes a world of difference – and the reduction sauce turned out excellent. We’re usually trying to figure out how to save the rendered fat from the ducks in our custody and so the carcasses get thrown out after being picked.
Not this time. Carcass saved, frozen, and a fine stock is imminent. Perhaps a blog post?
It’s safe to say roast ducks, apart from looking and tasting elegant, are fairly easy to prepare and are self-basting so they need little babysitting once they go into the oven.
Poke tiny holds in the skin to allow melted fat to escape, rub them down with a little salt and pepper, and roast on a rack for 2 hours or less. Wham. Bam. Couldn’t be simpler.
When it comes to overly dry meat, we think there’s also less stress with regards to duck than say the fear of dry chicken or the almost inevitably dry turkey. Duck, with it’s thick layers of exterior fat, just doesn’t work that way.
In truth, there a few extra steps you can take to crisp up the breast skin and at the same time create a flavorful reduction sauce that goes perfectly with your duck. For this recipe, we just happened to use blood oranges, but you could easily use pomegranates, cherries, peaches – maybe even pichuberries; those would be fun to try.